Poor shot selection on spotlight as Police survive a low-scoring affairBundle out APF Club for a tournament-low 41 but lose five wickets in their nervy run chase.
Poor shot selection was on the spotlight as Nepal Police Club overcame Nepal Armed Police Force Club by five wickets to enter the final of Prime Minister Cup One-Day National cricket tournament on Thursday.
The match was expected to be a high-scoring affair but all the expectations took no time to fizzle out after APF collapsed to the tournament-low 41 all out in just 22.1 overs with a majority of batsmen throwing away their wickets. NPC had heart in their mouth when they were reduced to 23-5 themselves at one stage but Pawan Sarraf held firm to lead his side to 45-5 in 9.3 overs.
Veteran spinner Basanta Regmi, who returned to the side from injury to lead the defending champions in the crucial game, was left fuming at his frontline batsmen. “I don’t think the pitch was the problem. It didn’t support the fast bowlers. The ball usually turns in this wicket and they (NPC spinners) did an exceptional job,” said Regmi.
“It was a crucial game for us and our top batsmen needed to take the responsibility. But we made very poor shot selections and paid the heavy price. We had a plan but it never materialised. We should have made 200 plus score but we regularly threw away the wicket. If we don’t score good runs in this wicket, I don’t know where we should play,” he fumed.
It was right-arm medium pacer who wreaked havoc early on getting rid of Aarif Sheikh (two), Pradeep Airee (two) and Sumit Maharjan (two). After the three early wickets, spinners exerted more pressure on APF batsmen who ended up playing some rash shots to throw away their wickets. Sharad Vesawkar and Prithu Baskota were the leading scorers for APF with seven runs each.
Left-arm spinner and man-of-the-match Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi demolished the middle and lower middle order taking 4-8 from his six miserly overs. Another left-arm slow bowler Sagar Dhakal also took 3-15 from 8.1 overs. The national team member Rajbanshi now leads tournament’s wicket-taking chart with 16 wickets to his name.
Rajbanshi credited the victory to the team effort. “The guys have trained really hard and that effort can be seen in the ground,” said Rajbanshi. “I am just trying to bowl in the right areas, an attempt ot correct my mistakes that I had made in previous games. The pitch was initially looking good to bat on and I was surprised that it favoured the spinners.”
NPC also had a disastrous start thanks to yet another display of irresponsible batting. Brilliant APF fielding and bowling also played part in early NPC dismissals. Regmi struck in his first over when he lured Anil Kumar Sah (duck) for a drive but ended up handing an catch at slips to Vesawkar. Another opener Sunil Dhamala was next to go who was undone by a sharp catch from Baskota at forward short leg off Vesawkar.
Regmi returned in the third over to trap Amit Shrestha leg before wicket reducing them to 5-3. Dipendra Singh Airee played with his natural instinct hitting two boundaries but watched Dilip Nath (three) throw away his wicket when he needlessly stepped out to smash Vesawkar. NPC were left stunned when Regmi sent back Airee (13) following a superb diving catch from Dipendra Rawat at point. However, Sarraf took off the pressure smashing three consecutive boundaries off Vesawkar in the 10th over. He remained unbeaten on a 14-ball 21 that included four hits to the fence.