Everest Premier League: Warriors lift title
Dec 31, 2017-
Biratnagar Warriors snatched victory from the jaws of defeat to edge Bhairahawa Gladiators by one run to win the Everest Premier League (EPL) Twenty20 title at the TU Stadium on Saturday.
In one of the most entertaining finals in domestic cricket attended by a record audience of almost 20,000, Warriors marked an incredible turnaround to win the game in the final ball. Electing to bat first, Paras Khadka’s team notched up a challenging 149-7 in 20 overs. The game was virtually out of their grasp when Gladiators needed just 11 runs in the last two overs with in-form batsmen Aarif Sheikh and Rohit Kumar Paudel at the crease.
But Khadka bowled cleverly in the penultimate over to turn the match on its head before Gladiators fell just one run short finishing at 148-9 in 20 overs. Warriors collected a cash purse of Rs 2.1 million - the highest cash purse in domestic cricket - and Gladiators got Rs 800,000.
The game was hanging in balance when Gladiators were 44-1 at the end of seven overs. Warriors’ Hong Kong recruit Anshuman Rath came in to bowl the eighth over for a spell of bowling that was rarely seen in Nepali cricket.
Rath failed to grip the ball properly and bowled too short deliveries in the entire over leaking 36 runs, a record for an over at the TU Stadium. Skipper Sharad Vesawkar alone hit four sixes and a boundary in that over taking 11 balls to complete it. Infuriated by Rath’s wayward bowling, spectators hurled water bottles at the ground forcing a brief halt.
Courtesy Rath’s bowling, Vesawkar and Pratham Salunke (30) forged a 68-run partnership for the second wicket as Gladiators began to take control of the game. Although they lost Vesawkar and Pradeep Airee (six), Gladiators were racing towards victory needing just 11 runs in the last two overs.
But Khadka removed Aarif (27) and Rohit (seven) in the 19th over conceding just two runs. Needing nine runs from the last six balls, Krishna Karki (five) greeted spinner Anil Sah with a four in the final over. But Sah bowled Karki the next ball as Gladiators required five to win from four.
After a dot in the third, new man Bhuwan Karki was run out and Sah removed Puneet Mehra for a golden duck in the fifth ball leaving Gladiators with five to score from the last ball. Bhupendra Thapa could only manage three as Warriors celebrated a sensational comeback win.
Vesawkar, who top scored for his side with 52 in a 39-ball innings that also included four boundaries, hailed the final despite losing the game. “The final was played like a final and was very interesting till the end. The guys put in effort but unfortunately we panicked in the closing stages. There are youngsters in the team but the way how they played in the tournament has actually made me really proud,” said Vesawkar.
Khadka was all praise of his boys. “It was a fabulous game of cricket. Hats off to our boys for doing so good. We had played as a good team throughout the tournament and will take this title. Anil was exceptional today in the closing overs,” said Khadka.
Earlier, it was Rath who top scored for Warriors making a run-a-ball 41 with four boundaries and a six. Man-of-the-final Khadka, who also returned the figures of 3-18, made 27 off 22 with two sixes and a four. Sah (22) was their next best scorers.
Warriors opener Hayat, who scored 315 runs to become tournament’s leading run getter, was named the man-of-the-series. He was rewarded with a TVS Apache RTR 200 motorbike. Gladiators’ Paudel was named most valuable player.
Biratnagar Warriors 149-7 in 20 overs (A Rath 41, P Khadka 27; H Sah 2-16, K Karki 2-27) beat Bhairahawa Gladiators 148-7 in 20 overs (S Vesawkar 50, P Salunke 30; P Khadka 3-18, A Sah 2-19) by one run
Man-of-the-match: Paras Khadka
Man-of-the-series: Babar Hayat
Most Valuable Player: Rohit Kumar Paudel
Published: 31-12-2017 08:22