Chitwan Tigers claim maiden Everest Premier League Twenty20 cricket titleSharki scores a half-century and Airee grabs four wickets as Kami’s side edge Pokhara Rhinos by four wickets in the final.
A half-century from Bhim Sharki and a four-wicket haul from Kamal Airee gave Chitwan Tigers a four-wicket victory over Pokhara Rhinos as they claimed their maiden Everest Premier League Twenty20 cricket tournament title at the TU cricket ground in Kirtipur on Saturday.
Inviting Pokhara to bat first, Sompal Kami-led Chitwan bowled out Binod Bhandari's Pokhara for a paltry total of 111 in 17.5 overs. Chasing the target, the middle-order batter Sharki played a crucial knock of 45-ball 63 as Chitwan raced to victory scoring 114-5 in 15.5 overs.
Captain Kami hit Mahato for a boundary in the fifth delivery of the 16th over to guide Chitwan to their first ever silverware in the fourth edition. It was also Chitwan's third successive victory over Pokhara in the tournament, with the first coming in the league stage and second in the qualifiers for the final — both won by nine wickets.
Champions Chitwan bagged a purse of Rs5 million while Pokhara walked away with Rs1.5 million.
"We had a balanced team and the addition of Afghan batter Mohammad Shahzad became a big plus point to us," Chitwan coach Samsong Jung Thapa said after the victory.
"The team was also studded with the best fast bowlers and spinners of the country. The arrival of Afghanistan's Karim Janat and Sri Lanka’s Prassana made us even stronger in the bowling department while Bhim Sharki and Rajesh Pulami's presence in the team meant we had batters in lower-middle order as well. All players except Dhakal and Shahab Alam could bat, thus we had depth in the squad."
About the final, he said, "Though we had defeated them twice in the tournament, we did not take them lightly, because it was another match and we tried to give continuity to our momentum.”
Pokhara's misery began after they lost South African opener Richard Levi for 26 runs off 15. He hit five boundaries before being caught by Dilip Nath off Karim Janat in the fourth over with 37 runs on the board.
They began losing wickets in quick successions and were 3-43 as they lost Rit Gautam and Sri Lankan Sahan Arachchige for two runs each. The other opener Bipin Rawal contributed 15-ball 17 with a boundary and six each.
Sri Lankan Asela Gunaratne was the highest scorer for Pokhara, collecting 24-ball 34 that included three boundaries and a six. He was caught by Nath off compatriot Sekkuge Prasanna. Captain Bhandari was another remarkable scorer contributing 22 runs off 26 as none other batters reached double digit figures. He hit two fours before being caught by Sharki off Airee.
The man-of-the-match Airee grabbed four wickets in his 3.5 overs bowling spell conceding 20 runs. Janat and Prasanna picked two wickets each in their three-over spell. While Janat gave 15 runs, Prasanna conceded 13 runs.
Chitwan, too, made a shaky start to their run chase losing the first three wickets for 20 runs including Sri Lankan opener Mohammad Shahzad for 11 runs. His opening partner Hasim Amsari and number three batter Karim Janat were both out for a duck.
But Sharki, who came to bat at number four, steadied the innings playing 45-ball 63. He smashed seven boundaries and two sixes before being caught by Rit Gautam off Kishore Mahato in the penultimate ball of the innings. Sharki also shared a 54-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Nath who scored 18 runs off 17.
Rajesh Pulami was the other batter to contribute in double digit figures scoring 14 runs before captain Kami hit boundary in the very first ball he faced to guide them to victory.
Mahato was the pick of Pokhara bowling claiming four wickets in his 3.5 overs bowling. He conceded 27 runs. Nandan Yadav picked two wickets in his four-over spell giving away 26 runs.
Chitwan also swept the individual awards in the tournament. Chitwan's left arm spinner Sagar Dhakal was declared the player-of-the-series for his crucial 14-wicket haul in the tournament. The 19-year-old was awarded with a Pulsar two-wheeler.
His teammate Bhim Sharki got the emerging player award while Airee was given the dare to dream award. They were rewarded with Rs51,000 each. Sharki was the second highest scorer in the tournament, with 196 runs that included two half-centuries. Medium pacer Airee grabbed 12 wickets in seven innings of the tournament.