Rijal hits form as Army hammer Province 2Rijal shared 121 runs for the first wicket with Bhandari who was out for a 61-ball 66 hitting nine boundaries.
Former U-19 skipper Raju Rijal regained form after a long time to lead title contenders Tribhuvan Army Club to a 171-run crushing victory over Province 2 in their opening match of the Prime Minister Cup One Day National cricket tournament on Friday.
Rijal, who led Nepal to its first ever quarter-finals of the ICC U-19 World Cups in 2016 and then made way into the senior side with back to back impressive performance, has been consistently under pressure to make runs. The right handed batsman finally broke through when he opened the innings with skipper Binod Bhandari and laid the foundation for Army's 278-9 in 50 overs.
Left arm spinners Shahab Alam, Sushan Bhari Shrestha and Kushal Malla accounted for eight wickets as Province 2 were 107 all out in 31.4 overs. Rijal was named the man-of-the-match.
After settling in the domestic set up, Rijal had been batting down the order for any team ultimately putting himself under pressure to make quick runs in 50-over games. In absence of Army's regular openers Naresh Budhayer, who is out of the country, Sagar Pun (injured), Rijal opened the bat on Fridya and made most of the batting time he got.
Rijal shared 121 runs for the first wicket with Bhandari who was out for a 61-ball 66 hitting nine boundaries. Rijal added another 62 runs for the second wicket with Hari Bahadur Chauhan and despite surviving a stumping off Hari Shankar Sah in the third ball of the 35th over, lost his wicket to the same bowler handing an easy catch to Mehboob Alam at short cover.
Rijal missed his first domestic century by 10 runs and hit five fours and two sixes in 109 deliveries. Army were heading towards a 300 plus total but Province 2 bowlers managed to contain the opponents for the last 10 overs. Current U-19 captain Rohit Kumar Paudel made some runs from the middle order with a 36-ball 47 with four boundaries and a six.
Sah was the pick of the Province 2 bowlers taking 3-55 from 10 overs with a maiden. Rashid Khan, Bibek Yadav, Samsad Sheikh and Bishal Shusling also took a wicket each for them.
With a mountain to climb, Sah was the only reliable name in Province 2 batting against an equally strong Army bowling attack. The left-handed opener did make sure his side doesn't lose wicket in the first 10 overs and played some classic drives but once right arm seamer Jitendra Mukhiya got rid of him, Province 2 struggle throughout their innings.
Sah, who added 37 runs for the first wicket with Sudhir Chaudhary (15), made 21 off 28 with four boundaries. Sheikh (16), Suraj Patel (15) and Khan (14) were the only other Province 2 batsmen to make runs in double figures. Alam took 4-29 from nine overs for Army and Bhari had the figures of 3-20 from 6.4 overs.
Once a big asset in the senior national team, Mukhiya, was unplayable taking 2-11 from seven overs with two maiden. Another national team fast bowling all-rounder Karan KC also made debut for Army team on Friday going wicketless in his six overs.
Tournament's another venue, the lower ground in Mulpani, will not host any match in the first two days. On Saturday, national cricket team captain Paras Khadka-led Province 3 will take on his own former club and defending champions Nepal Armed Police Force Club.