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Pokhara Premier League: Paltan enters final, Rhinos survives scare

- ADARSHA DHAKAL, Pokhara

Nov 4, 2018-

Sharad Vesawkar-led Pokhara Paltan advanced to the final of the Pokhara Premier League as Paras Khadka’s Chitwan Rhinos survived a Biratnagar Titans scare to book a ticket for the Eliminator on the final of league matches on Saturday.

In a tight points table where all six teams were in fray for top-three finish, Paltan took a big stride towards the title by defeating Gyanendra Malla’s Kathmandu Royals. Rhinos, Royals and Dhangadhi Blues also finished on six points. But as Rhinos and Royals secured Eliminator berths finishing second and third. Blues crash out along with Butwal Blasters and Sandeep Lamichhane-led Titans.

Amid the tight equation, Rhinos still had a chance to take the top spot and make direct entry to the final had they crushed Titans by a huge margin. But Lamichhane led the way for his side to give Khadka’s team a run for their money. Staring at elimination themselves, Sunny Patel’s fastest half century instead kept Rhinos in the tournament. Rhinos will now take on Royals in Sunday’s Eliminator match, the winners of which will play Paltan for the title on Tuesday.

Titans had just 145-5 to defend against a strong-looking Rhinos batting side and Lamichhane spun the web from the onset removing opener Hari Shankar Sah for a duck in the first ball. He then marked the day with a prized scalp of Khadka (seven), who was undone by the leg spinner’s googly to have his middle stump dislodged.

Another opener Anil Kumar Sah (13) also fell as Rhinos were reduced to 28-3 in 4.2 overs. Titans then kept Smit Patel (21) and Aarif Sheikh in check in their sluggish 38-run stand for the fourth wicket. Lamichhane returned in the 15th over to get rid of Sheikh and Bhuwan Karki in a single over reducing Rhinos to 86-6 in 15 overs. But Patel offloaded the Rhinos from pressure hitting Shahab Alam for a six and two consecutive boundaries leaving his side 43 to win from 24 balls. Rhinos needed 26 runs from the last 12 balls with Lamichhane bowling the 19th.

Rhinos collected 18 runs from Lamichhane’s last over as Rhinos sniffed victory. Patel settled the nerves hitting Kishor Mahato for back-to-back boundaries to finish at 148-6 in 19.3 overs. Lamichhane finished with the figures of 4-25. Earlier, openers Muhammad Zaid Alam and Sunil Dhamala did almost all of the scoring for Titans. The duo put on 87 runs for the first wicket. Alam scored 51 off 47 with six fours and two sixes. Dhamala contributed 45 off 47 with seven boundaries. Khadka and Smit Patel took two wickets each for Rhinos.

Meanwhile, Royals would have found itself into the final had it beaten Paltan but the expectation took no time to fizzle out after it was squeezed out for 103 in 19.1 overs. Royals did manage to pick up six wickets in its defence but United Arab Emirates (UAE) recruit Mohammad Naveed produced a crucial 15-ball cameo leading Paltan to 104-6 in 15.5 overs.

Royals skipper Malla rued the missed chance but was confident to bounce back. “We had a chance to directly play the final since our game against Chitwan but that didn’t happen. We still have a chance because we are not eliminated. I am confident that the boys will come back stronger,” said Malla.

Paltan openers Kushal Bhurtel (14) and Aasif Sheikh (16) began cautiously with No 3 batsman Ravi Inder Singh (22) also contributing to the total. But it was Naveed who did the job for Paltan after he struck a 15-ball 36. He slammed five sixes, three of those coming off  an over bowled by Amar Singh Routela. Routela took 3-39 for Royals including that of Naveed. Rohit Kumar Paudel scored 15 not out off seven balls with three fours.

Earlier, man-of-the-match Naveed set the tone for Paltan getting rid of Royals’ Indian recruit Jay Kishan Kolsawala and hard-hitter Gaurav Tomar for ducks in successive deliveries. Paltan took control of the game there. Skipper Malla top scored for Royals with a 28-ball 31 hitting three fours and a six. Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi took three and Rashid Khan two wickets for Paltan.

Summaries

Pokhara Paltan 104-6 in 15.5 overs (M Naveed 36, RI Singh 22; A Routela 3-39, S Bhari 1-14) beats Kathmandu Royals 103 in 19.1 overs (G Malla 31, A Shrestha 21; L Rajbanshi 3-18, M Naveed 2-11, R Khan 2-17)

by four wickets

Man-of-the-match: M Naveed

............

Chitwan Rhinos 148-6 in 19.3 overs (S Patel 51*, A Sheikh 35; S Lamichhane 4-25, S Dhamala 1-18) beats Biratnagar Titans 145-5 in 20 overs (MZ Alam 51, S Dhamala 47; SK Patel 2-27, P Khadka 2-29)

by four wickets

Man-of-the-match: S Patel

Published: 04-11-2018 09:18

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