APF clinch Prime Minister Cup T20 cricketSharad Vesawkar’s men register 21-run victory over arch-rivals Nepal Police Club in the final match at TU ground.
Sharad Vesawkar-led Nepal Armed Police Force (APF) Club clinched Prime Minister Cup National Twenty20 cricket tournament defeating archrivals Nepal Police Club by 21 runs at the TU grounds in Kirtipur on Wednesday.
Put into bat first, APF posted a moderate total of 157 runs on a collective batting effort losing all the wickets with a ball to spare. In bowling, medium pacer Kishore Mahato grabbed three wickets as they restricted Police at 136-7 despite a half century from Dipendra Singh Airee.
Winners APF bagged a purse of Rs500,000 and the runners up Police walked away with Rs300,000 along with trophies and certificates. The two semi-finalists Tribhuvan Army Club and Bagmati Province got Rs50,000 each.
APF, though, made a shaky start to their innings losing openers Pradeep Airee and Aasif Sheikh for seven and nine runs respectively and kept losing wickets on regular interval, moderate contributions from as many as five batters guided them to an average total.
“It is difficult to play in morning conditions at TU grounds. It was also a different wicket and grass on the pitch made playing difficult,” said APF captain Vesawkar. “But despite losing early wickets, the positive aspect was we were able to maintain the run rate. The whole team including the No 10 batter contributed well.”
He was also full of praise for openers Airee and Sheikh, the player-of-the-series. “Pradeep and Aasif played consistently well in every match and made our entry into the final easy,” said Vesawkar pointing that young players came up with fearless performance. “The recent change seen in Nepali cricket is that young players have been putting up fearless performances.”
Third number batter Lokesh Bam, who hit 18-ball 66 in the semi-final against Tribhuvan Army Club on Tuesday, scored 27 off 15. He smashed three sixes and a boundary. Lower middle order batter Amar Routela contributed the highest 15-ball 29 in the innings. He hit two boundaries and three sixes.
Sundeep Jora contributed 24 off 20, captain Vesawkar 19 off 25, and Bhuvan Karki 17 off 22 for APF who lost other batters cheaply. They were also gifted with extra 10 runs.
Police allrounder Airee and Sagar Dhakal grabbed three wickets each while Gulsan Jha picked two scalps. Airee conceded 22 runs in his four-over spell and Dhakal gave away 29 runs in his 3.5 overs bowling.
Chasing the target, Police too made a poor start to their innings losing opener Pawan Sarraf for a duck in the very first delivery of the innings and Amit Shretha for three runs, both of them dismissed by Mahato. But Airee who came to bat at number four consolidated the innings with a 54-ball 65.
Airee, dropped by Abinash Bohara in the 13th over at 39 runs, hit three boundaries and two maximums before he was caught in the last over by Pradeep Airee off Bohara. Dilip Nath contributed 23 off 22 that included two fences.
Aarif Sheikh and Anil Sah who contributed 12 runs and 10 runs respectively were the other Police batters to score double digit figures. Police also got 13 extra runs.
Apart from Mahato’s three wicket haul, APF bowlers Abinash Bohara, Amar Routela and Dipak Bohara also picked one wicket each. The player-of-the-final Mahato grabbed three wickets in his four-over bowling conceding 17 runs.
APF’s 21-year-old batter Aasif Sheikh won the player-of-the-series award. He had scored 227 runs in six matches of the tournament including two half centuries. He was rewarded with a purse of Rs30,000. Lumbini Province’s Anil Kharel was named best bowler and Police’s Kushal Bhurtel won best batter awards.
Spinner Kharel had claimed 10 wickets in four matches for Lumbini who crashed out from the group stage. Bhurtel had scored 182 runs for Police in the four matches of the group stage but did not play in the semi-final and final due to health problems.
According to the Cricket Association of Nepal, the tournament also served as the selection match for the ICC World Twenty20 Global Qualifiers set to take place from February 17-24 in Oman.