APF, Army secure semi-final berths in PM CupBoth Group A departmental sides are square on six points at top after three matches, and the winners between them on Monday will advance as toppers.
Departmental teams Nepal Armed Police Force (APF) Club and Tribhuvan Army Club have reached the semi-finals of the Prime Minister Cup National one-day cricket tournament after the former edged Karnali Province by 71 runs at the TU cricket grounds in Kirtipur on Saturday.
APF climbed on top of the Group 'A' standings with equal six points as Army after playing three points apiece. The teams are separated on the points table on the basis of net run rate. The last group match to be played between them on Monday will determine the group winners. Karnali, Province 1 and Gandaki all crashed out finishing third to fifth respectively in the five-team group with equal two points each.
Batting first, APF were bowled out in the penultimate ball of the innings scoring 218 runs. In the run chase, Karnali were bundled out for 147 runs in 43.2 overs.
APF made a poor start to their innings losing opener Rit Gautam for a duck. His opening partner Subash Khakurel contributed 23 runs before he was trapped leg before by Raj Shah. Skipper Sharad Vesawkar was out for eight runs, Shankar Rana contributed 15 runs and Sumit Maharjan scored 10 runs as APF were tottering at 67-5.
But number six batsman Sundeep Jora contributed the highest 60 runs to lift the innings. He shared a 78-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Amar Rautala who contributed 31 off 54. The man-of-the-match Jora hit five boundaries and two sixes in his 76-ball knock before he was caught by Nischal Rawal off Rabindra Shahi.
Basant Regmi and Bhuvan Karki contributed 14 and 15 runs respectively while Kishore Mahato remained unbeaten for 13 runs. APF were also gifted with 20 extra runs.
Karnali bowlers Rabindra Shahi and Anuj Chunara claimed equal three wickets apiece while Diwan Pun and Raj Shah grabbed two each. Shahi gave away 32 runs in his nine-over bowling with a maiden over. Chunara conceded 30 runs in his 6.5 overs bowling with a maiden over.
Karnali also faltered in their run chase as they lost top three batsmen – Rabindra Shahi, Bipin Rawat and Nischal Rawal—cheaply for 14, seven and two runs respectively with 54-3 on board. But highest scorer Hemant Oli and Himanshu Shahi brought Karnali back on track with 56 runs partnership for fourth wicket. Oli, the fifth wicket to fall, hit six fences in his patience knock contributing 58 off 102. He was run out by Jora.
Shahi hit 20 runs while Abishek Thakuri and Raju Pun who contributed equal 12 runs each were the other batsmen to touch double digits.
APF bowler Basant Regmi and Kishore Mahato claimed three wickets each. Regmi gave away 23 runs in his 10-over spell with a maiden over. Mahato conceded 31 runs in his 8.2-over bowling with two maiden overs.
Lumbini in semi-final hunt
Lumbini Province kept afloat their semi-final hopes with a six-wicket victory over Sudurpaschim Province in Group 'B' match at the Mulpani grounds.
Inviting Sudurpaschim to bat first, Lumbini bowled out the opponents for 62 runs in 27.4 overs courtesy to four wicket haul from skipper Krishna Karki. In reply, Lumbini made 64-4 in 14.5 overs.
With the outcome, Lumbini climbed second in the Group 'B' standings with four points after the third match. They are two points behind leaders Bagmati and level on third place with Nepal Police Club.
Sudurpaschim failed in the batting department with only two batsmen – lower middle order Santosh Bhatta, also the skipper, and Narayan Joshi – managing to touch double digits. Bhatta scored 11 runs and Joshi 17 runs.
Lumbini's Karki came up with impressive bowling figures. The man-of-the-match conceded 17 runs with three maiden overs in his 10-over spell. Anil Kharel and Bikram Bhusal grabbed two wickets each.
Chasing the meagre target, Lumbini's Saurav Khanal contributed an unbeaten 18 runs while Karki scored 15 runs and Prakash KC remained not out on 17 runs.
Sher Malla of Sudurpaschim grabbed two wickets.
Province 2 will vie against Sudurpaschim at the TU grounds on Sunday and Bagmati will take on Lumbini at the Mulpani grounds.