After 15 days of formality, given the strength of both APF & TAC stacked with national players, both the teams are all set to lock horns for the ultimate crown in Nepal’s domestic cricket.
Baitadi youngsters Basant Khatri & Prashant Bist produced the most compelling passage of play in the match today as they smashed 8 sixes between in a whirlwind partnership of 106 runs which cheered up the whole ground and spectators danced in joy witnessing two unlikeliest players doing wonders for Baitadi.
Baitadi lost plot after conceding 329 runs and losing 8 wickets for just 105 runs while chasing. But the complexion of whole match was changed as no. 8 and no. 10 combined to bring life to the match.
Army kept attacking but cost them plenty of runs as at one stage Basant Khatri smashed three back to back sixes in one Sunam Gautam over which made Bhandari to bring his leading pacer Sompal and spinner Rahul Vishwakarma at crease.
But a huge mix up after a failed call saw both the talismanic batsmen end up at same crease bringing the sad end to the exciting partnership sealing the match for Army.
Sompal Kami picked up three wickets supported by Sagar Pun’s 2. Jeetendra Mukhiya and Sompal Kami gave early blows to Baitadi innings. Army won the match by 118 runs. Mahesh Chhetri was adjudged man of the match.
Earlier, in a match played at TU ground, Tribhuvan Army Club Skipper Binod Bhandari won the toss and decided to bat first cashing the rich vein of form of their opening batsmen boosted with return of Sagar Pun & Sompal Kami in the lineup.
Expectedly, the opening pair of Anil Mandal & Mahesh Chhetri were immovable. They scored runs with ease. Punishing the bad balls and defending the occasional good balls. They broke the record for opening stand which was held by themselves earlier in the tournament.
Anil Mandal scored 15 boundaries in his third, & fourth all over, century of Senior Nationals. Anil Mandal holds the record for most hundreds in Nationals cricket as well as most centuries in a calender tournament. Anil Mandal’s innings was full of straight shots and off side drives glitterati.
Mahesh Chhetri was more brutal on legside being the perfect foil to the historic partnership between the two former national regulars who lost their places only recently due to bad form. Mahesh was more of an anchor to Mandal as he played cautiously and looked to play full 50 overs before falling short in 48th over. He scored match wining 134 runs.
However, though late, Baitadi bowled brilliantly in slog overs to keep them under 330 which at one stage were set for conceding more than 350. The Baitadi players were lacklusture in field missing stumps often and doing basic mistakes of not backing up. Anil Mandal was dropped on 115 at fine leg but the damage was already done.
TAC will face APF who defeated Birgunj by 7 wickets in a match played at Pulchowk. Arif Sheikh was adjudged man of the match for his 5 wickets.