Army inch closer to semi-finals with 117-run crushing of KarnaliRaju Rijal continues his fine form for the departmental team with another half century.
Tribhuvan Army Club inched closer to the semi-final of the Prime Minister Cup One Day National cricket tournament after brushing aside Karnali Province by 117 runs for their third consecutive victory on Tuesday.
In a Group 'B' match at the Mulpani Cricket Ground, half centuries from openers Hare Krishna Jha and Raju Rijal along with Rohit Kumar Paudel lifted Army to a tournament-high 290-9 in 50 overs. Sushan Bhari Shrestha then picked up four wickets as Karnali were 173 all out in 35.1 overs.
At the TU Stadium, Paras Khadka-led Province 3 eased to a seven-wicket victory over Gandaki Province in Group 'A'. Khadka once again starred with the ball, this time with his off spinners, to bundle out Gandaki for just 108 in 20.1 overs. Province 3 reached 112-3 in 22.2 overs.
In Mulpani, opener Rijal continued to impress in 50-over competition after he laid the foundation for a big total sharing 132 runs for the first wicket with Jha. The man-of-the-match made 66 off 78 balls with 10 boundaries before falling prey to Lalit Pyakurel. Rijal's innings came three days after he slammed a composed 90 against Province 2 in the tournament opener.
With the departure of Rijal, Army went through a mini collapse losing five wickets for 37 to get precariously placed at 169-5 in 36 overs. Jha, playing his first match in the tournament, made 52 off 100 balls with four boundaries. Paudel consolidated the Army innings forging a match-winning 67-run partnership with Karan KC.
Paudel made 56 off 51 with four boundaries and KC made 28 off 26 with two fours and a six. Lokendra Chand and Shahab Alam pushed the team close to 300 with 16 runs each. Pyakurel ended up with fifer but was hit for 63 runs nine overs. Skipper Rabindra Jung Shahi also had two scalps for Karnali.
Karnali lost their wickets in clusters with only Sushant Thapa offering some resistance from the top order with a 35-ball 31 that included five hits to the fence. Left arm spinner Sushan Bhari Shrestha picked up four middle order wickets reducing Karnali to 120-9 in 27 overs. Pyakurel and Unish Singh (20) prolonged Army's wait for victory with a 53-run last wicket stand.
Pyakurel made a run-a-ball 28 with two fours and a six. Bhari, who now has 10 wickets from three matches, returned the figures of 4-36 from nine overs. Alam also took two wickets for Army.
In Kirtipur, Khadka returned his second consecutive four-for wreaking havoc in the Gandaki top order reducing them to 50-6 in 18 overs. Antim Thapa and Suma Ghimire stemmed the rot with a 53-run partnership for the seventh wicket before the collapse resumed.
Right arm seamer Nandan Yadav struck first getting rid of their top scorer Ghimire who hit three sixes and a boundary in a 32-ball 34. Thapa was the last man to get dismissed for 28 off 46 that included two boundaries. Man-of-the-match Khadka returned the figures of 4-18 and Tamang snared 4-29. Yadav also took two wickets for Province 3 who currently lead the table with four points from three games.
Nepal Armed Police Force Club can leapfrog them if they beat defeat Gandaki in their next match on Friday. Kishore Mahato seized the early initiative removing openers Rabin Joshi (11) and Rit Gautam (20), while Bipin Khatri removed Abhishek Basnet (five) reducing Province 3 to 41-3 in 7.2 overs.
Aadil Khan and Ishan Pandey negotiated with the target adding 71 runs for an unbroken fourth wicket partnership. Khan made 38 off 53 with five boundaries and Pandey chipped in 26 from 40 with four hits to the fence. On Wednesday, Karnali will take on Province 2 in Kirtipur and Nepal Police Club will take on Province 1 in Mulpani.