Chitwan Rhinos make a clean sweep to lift trophyChitwan Rhinos score a comfortable 32-run win over Biratnagar Titans in the Pokhara Premier League final.
Half-centuries from Anil Sah and Rohan Mustafa helped Chitwan Rhinos secure a 32-run win over Biratnagar Titans and lift the Pokhara Premier League trophy on Saturday. The Rhinos had a perfect run and did not lose even a single match during the tournament.
Chasing 203 runs for a win at the Pokhara grounds, the Titans got restricted to 170-7 in their stipulated 20 overs. After losing early wickets, the Titans were reeling at 16-2 in 2.1 overs. However, Noman Khan and Mohammad Zaid Alam then added 53 runs for the third wicket. Khan had scored a run a ball 18 before he was run out by Aarif Sheikh in the 10th over.
Alam then found an able ally in skipper Pradeep Airee and the pair added 41 runs for the fourth wicket. However, Alam was caught by Bhim Karki off Rohan Mustafa in the 15th over with Biratnagar still requiring 93 runs from 35 balls.
Puneet Mehta then belted a quickfire 32 off 13 balls, scoring three sixes and two boundaries. But he was then caught by Bikram Sob off Sunny Patel in the 18th over with the Titans stranded at 157-5.
They then lost the next two wickets for just two runs. Dilip Nath and Airee were out caught off two successive deliveries from Karan KC. Nath, out for a duck, was caught by Babar Hayat, while Airee (36) had to return to the pavilion following a spectacular diving catch by Aarif Sheikh.
Pushpa Thapa (3) and Jitendra Mukhiya (7) remained unbeaten as the Titans’ overs ran out.
KC was the most impressive of the Chitwan bowlers. He picked up three wickets, giving away 36 runs in his four overs. Sunny Patel claimed two wickets and Rohan Mustafa one.
Earlier, after being put to bat, the Chitwan outfit scored an imposing 202-5 in their stipulated 20 overs. Skipper Khadka was the first wicket to depart with 36 runs on the board. He hit a quickfire 25 off 11 balls before his pull shot failed to clear the boundary and he got caught by Noman Khan at square leg. Khadka's innings included four fours and a six, all of them coming in the third over of the match bowled by Jitendra Mukhiya.
Babar Hayat (5) was clean bowled by Muhammad Zaid Alam in the fifth over. Rohan Mustafa and Anil Sah then added 95 runs for the third wicket. Both the batsmen scored 50 runs each to put the Rhinos in a commanding position. The pair, however, got dismissed in quick succession.
Sah hit three sixes and three fours in his 34-ball innings before he was caught by Alam off Puneet Mehra. The Rhinos had put on 140 in 15.1 overs when Sah departed. Mustafa was caught by Noman Khan, three balls later.
Aarif Sheikh (19) and Sunny Patel then added 28 runs for the fifth wicket. Patel remained unbeaten on 16 along with all-rounder Karan KC whose 26-run cameo came off just eight balls and included two fours and two sixes.
Alam and Mehra picked two wickets each for Biratnagar while Kishore Mahato accounted for one wicket.
In the post-match press conference, Rhinos’ captain Khadka said: “I think, we batted exceptionally well, we've played well throughout the tournament and today's win was give it a great finishing touch." The Rhinos had lost against Pokhara Paltan in the last year's final by three wickets.
"As a captain, I'm very happy," said the former national skipper. He added: "Every player fulfilled his responsibility. I am so proud of the boys for all the effort they have put in throughout the tournament."
Khadka said the involvement of the private sector has been increasing in cricket and it was witnessed during the PPL as well. “I hope it continues to grow, as it would help the sport develop in Nepal."
The losing side Titans’ skipper Airee said: "We could have given a better challenge, but I feel, we conceded around 25 runs that we shouldn't have. We had a proper bowling plan in place, but we failed to execute them."
He added: “The opponents [Rhinos] have played well throughout the tournament and they did it today as well. They deserved to win."
As the tournament winners, Chitwan Rhinos received a purse of Rs2.7 million, while the runners-up team had to satisfy themselves with Rs1 million. Rohan Mustafa of Chitwan Rhinos was adjudged the player of the series, while Gyanendra Malla, captain of Kathmandu Golden Warriors was declared the best batsman and Rhinos' Karan KC the best bowler. Expert Dhangadi's Anil Kharel was adjudged as the emerging player. The most valuable player of the tournament was Titans’ Lokesh Bam.