Biratnagar Warriors became the first team to qualify for playoffs of the Everest Premier League with a crushing 71-run victory over a hapless Chitwan Tigers on Friday at the TU Stadium.
Skipper Dipendra Singh Airee’s decision to bat first backfired as Warriors posted a tournament-high 174-8 in 20 overs in a mattch that saw fireworks from Hong Kong recruit Babar Hayat and a hat-trick from Chitwan Tigers’ Indian signing Praveen Gupta. Tigers were all out for 103 runs in 18.2 overs.
Following their third consecutive victory, Warriors sealed a place in the playoff with two matches to go. They sit at the top of the table with six points. Chitwan Tigers and Kathmandu Kings XI have lost three matches each that now see both the sides facing early exit.
Warriors’ batting was the major highlight of the day as Chitwan bowlers were smashed all over the park, espcially Hayat who went on to make a tournament-high 81 from 42 balls with six sixes and five boundaries.
Aasif Sheikh and Anshuman Rath gave Warriors a decent start adding 35 runs for the first wicket. Aasif made 21 off 22 with three fours before he was stumped by Dilip Nath off Gupta.
Rath and his compatriot then combined for a 107-run partnership in 62 deliveries to put their side on upper hand. Hayat smashed Airee for four consecutive sixes and a boundary before completing his half century with a single.
He brought tournament’s fastest half century taking just 24 balls to reach there. Rath made 41 off 40 with five boundaries. Skipper Paras Khadka hit 16 off eight balls with two sixes. Both batsmen fell to Pramesh Kumar in the 19th over that fetched Warriors just three runs.
The 20th over belonged to Gupta who struck with consecutive dismissals of Anil Sah, Pranit Thapa Magar, Pushpa Thapa and Karan KC. Gupta’s figures read 5-34 from four overs, while Pramesh conceded 25 runs in three overs.
With a mountain to climb, Tigers played the entire innings under pressure and kept losing wickets from the first over. Bhim Sharki top scored for Tigers with a 20-ball 24 hitting a six and a four to reduce the loss-margin.
Sandeep Sunar scored a run-a-ball 16 hitting three boundaries, while Kamal Singh Airee (13), Gupta (13 not out) and Sabez Khan (12) were other batsmen to reach double figures. Basanta Regmi was the pick of the Warriors bowling taking 4-11 from 3.2 overs.
Avinash Karn took two wickets, while Karan KC, Anshuman Rath and Pushpa Thapa also had a scalp each.