Pokhara Premier League: Rhinos, Paltan clash for title

- Adarsha Dhakal, Pokhara

Nov 5, 2018-

The Pokhara Premier League (PPL) reaches its climax on Tuesday when Chitwan Rhinos take on Pokhara Paltan in a final where Sharad Vesawkar look to finally end the Paras Khadka hoodoo at the Pokhara Stadium.

Vesawkar and Khadka are two of the most successful captains of domestic franchise Twenty20 leagues. Khadka has claimed two different franchise leagues, beating Vesawkar's teams on both the occasions. Khadka had lifted the Everest Premier League (EPL) for Biratnagar Warriors and Dhangadhi Premier League for Biratnagar Kings last year.

Vesawkar, meanwhile, had claimed the first edition of EPL beating Gyanendra Malla-led Colors X-Factor two years ago. Vesawkar is representing the local side and will be boosted by a sizeable supporters who have thronged to the stadium in numbers during all of its matches.

"We are lucky to represent the home team and getting the backing from the crowd will be an added advantage for us. We will stay focused on our game and the result will come accordingly. The team environment is very good and we have gelled in very well in a short time," said Vesawkar shrugging off Khadka-Vesawkar rivalry.

"Its just another game for us. We are just one step away from the title and we are just thinking of enjoying with our game," said Vesawkar whose team started off the tournament as title contenders after sweeping aside Sandeep Lamichhane's Biratnagar Titans by 58 runs.

A stunning 33-run defeat to Butwal Blasters--who were eliminated from the league stage--gave it a reality check before bouncing back with a five-wicket win over Rhinos. Paltan then lost to Dhangadhi Blues but it managed to finish at the top of the table and directly entered the final after making a short work of Kathmandu Royals.

Rhinos, on the other hand, marked a remarkable comeback to reach the tournament final despite losing its first two matches. Before losing to Paltan in the league stage, it lost to Blasters in the first match after crashing a tournament-low 65. Rhinos was tagged favourites prior to the tournament on paper considering the depth it had in both the bowling and batting departments.

The most expensive team of the tournament finally clicked from the third game beating Blues by a massive 126 runs, Royals by 13 runs and Titans by five wickets to reach the Eliminator. Rhinos made light work of Royals in the Eliminator squeezing out Gyanendra Malla's team for just 94 to win the match by six wickets.

Khadka wants his boys to continue with the winning momentum. "The boys are very motivated. We want to carry this winning momentum until the final and make everyone happy by playing good cricket," said Khadka.

"This (pitting against Vesawkar’s team) is just a coincidence that we are playing one more time. But what matters the most is giving our best in the final. The good thing about the tournament as a whole is that cricket has now shown its presence in Pokhara and we hope a lot of people turn up tomorrow to see the final," he added.

Published: 05-11-2018 20:38

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