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The pyrotechnics that upstaged fireworks

A big ninth wicket partnership is rare. Chasing 291 in a 50-over game is tough ask. When its Nepal’s domestic cricket, both of them are next to impossible.

Not anymore.

Aadil Ansari did the unthinkable as his 43-ball 87 not out produced an incredible two-wicket victory over Sudur Paschim for Province 2 in what could be defined as one of the most sensational matches in the country’s domestic cricket history.

Sudur Paschim had set the U-19 National Cricket Tournament ablaze on Thursday, when despite surviving just 41.4 overs, they amassed 290 on the board on the back of a scintillating century from Arjun Saud and handful knock from Lokesh Bam. Both of them had laid on the table the examples of fluent hitting.  

And as the day ended, no one was talking about their performance. The limelight had brutally shifted.

Its true, cricket could be cruel sometimes.

Province 2 were down and out at 92-5 by the 20th over and Sudur Paschim had even cancelled out a 93-run sixth wicket stand between Gulshan Jha (46) and Amit Yadav (49) reducing the opponents to 214-8 by the 40th. They had their one foot in victory but didn’t know a tornado was about to sweep them away.

Aadil had already struck two consecutive sixes before Province 2 lost their eighth wicket. On a normal day, 7.70 runs an over from the last 10 overs would have been easy but with just two wickets in hand, one would always give a second thought of frequently cutting loose.

Aadil let go the 41st and 42nd overs hitting just a boundary, managing to accumulate 14 runs during this period. He collected 11 in the 43rd keeping the strike for the next where he would turn the tables.

Against Narayan Joshi, Aadil struck two sixes and two boundaries to collect 21 runs that left Province 2 to get 30 from the last 36. Knowing the singles and doubles would do, he switched the gears and negotiated with the target perfectly. He hit just a six and two boundaries in the last 14 deliveries he faced.

Hardly had anyone thought, Arjun Saud and Lokesh Chand were amassing runs just to lay the platform for Aadil Ansari.

“This feels like a dream. I must say this has to be the best knock of my career so far. I have played this sort of innings a couple of times back at my home but this is very special. The wicket was flat and it was not that hard to bat here. I am too happy for what I did today,” a visually elated Aadil said after the game.

It would have been injustice had Aadil not stood in the crease to hit the winning boundary off Hemant Dhami in the first ball of the final over. Fate had written the script for Aadil: He would bail the team out, make runs, hit the winning boundary and celebrate with all the aggression he could conjure up.

The picture was there.

Such was the domination of his ninth wicket stand that Aadil’s partner from the other end made just nine runs, being the calmest of the anchor.

Aadil’s whirlwind knock featured seven fours and six sixes. That knock upstaged what Arjun and Lokesh had done for Sudur Paschim two hours ago.

The two middle order batsmen had stitched 142-run fourth wicket partnership in no time. If stats are tallied, this could be one of the fastest 140 plus partnership in domestic cricket. Arjun was having the game of his life smashing a 76-ball ton and ultimately finishing at 85-ball 116 in an innings laced with 14 fours and five sixes.

Lokesh had scored 81 from 73 balls with 13 fours and a six. When the two were batting, even 350 looked inevitable for Sudur Paschim. The incoming batsmen, however, threw away their wickets as the province lost last five wickets for just 27 runs.

Sudur Paschim ultimately paid for that goof up.

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