Lumbini clinch maiden Nepal T20 League trophyDipendra Singh Airee-led side edge national captain Rohit Paudel’s Biratnagar Super Kings by 24 runs in the final at the TU cricket ground.
Lumbini All Stars edged Biratnagar Super Kings by 24 runs to clinch the title of the maiden, controversies-ridden Nepal T20 League at the TU cricket ground in Kirtipur on Wednesday.
Opting to bat first, Dipendra Singh Airee-led Lumbini were bowled out for 133 runs with four balls to spare before they restricted national team skipper Rohit Paudel-led Biratnagar Super Kings at 109-8.
The winners Lumbini, owned by All Star Sports Inc based in Texas, USA, will get a purse of Rs5.5 millions and the runners up Biratnagar will take away Rs3 million.
Openers Harmeet Singh and Lahiru Milantha were to be credited for Lumbini’s modest total. The two shared a 64-run partnership for the first wicket and also were the top two best scorers in the innings. Sri Lankan Milantha played a quickfire knock of 28-ball 41 and India’s Harmeet Singh hit 30 runs off 18.
“I am elated to win the title of the big league, but it was not an easy task,” Lumbini captain Airee said. “The overseas players were also outstanding.”
Airee added, “The wicket condition was not good for batting [today]. Our score was up to mark in the powerplay but we could not do well in the middle and at the end. However, we were hopeful of doing well in bowling and we fulfilled that.”
Singh, the first wicket to be dismissed, smashed three hits to the fences and two sixes before captain Paudel caught him in a delivery by Keon Joseph. Milantha cracked three boundaries and sixes each before captain Paudel made him caught by Nandan Yadav.
Lumbini captain Dipendra Singh Airee (20 off 23) and Ishan Pandey (18 off 22) were the other batters to score in double digit figures for the team. Airee, caught by Gauranshu Sharma in Raj Nannan delivery, slammed three hits to the fences. Pandey hit a boundary before Nannan bowled him out as fifth wicket. Pandey’s departure was followed by a dramatic collapse of Lumbini innings as they lost the remaining five wickets adding only 17 runs.
Yadav and Nannan claimed two wickets each while Hussain Talat, Joseph, Paudel and Surya Tamang picked a wicket each. Yadav conceded 22 runs in his 3.2 overs bowling while Nannan conceded 24 runs in his three-over spell.
Chasing the target, Biratnagar opener Arjun Saud cracked 34 off 40, the highest of the innings, while Prithu Baskota contributed 29-ball 31. Talat was the only other batter to touch double digit figures scoring 13 runs as Biratnagar lost other batters cheaply.
Saud hit a boundary and two sixes in his 40-ball knock before Kishore Mahato made him caught by Gulshan Jha. Middle order batter Baskota smashed two boundaries and a six before Harmeet Singh bowled him. Talat’s eight-ball innings included two hits to the fences.
All-rounder Singh, who also made remarkable contributions with bat for Lumbini, and Sagar Dhakal shared two scalps apiece. Singh gave away 16 runs in his four-over spell while Dhakal conceded 19 runs, also bowling four overs.
Biratnagar captain Paudel lamented his side’s poor batting. “We could not do well in the powerplay, that put us on the back foot,” said Paudel. “I could not play good shot and another key Talat’s run out turned costly.”
The tournament was dragged into controversy even before it kicked off after Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) leased the tournament for eight years to the little-known Indian company Seven3Sports without open bidding.
The first ever tournament organised by the country’s cricket governing body saw further crisis after payment issues to players, match fixing and spot fixing approach and allegations surfaced. All the players should have been given 40 percent of the contract amount before the tournament and the remaining 60 percent during the tournament. But most of the players are yet to receive the full amount.
Former national captain Gyanendra Malla, who also captained Kathmandu Knights, revealed on January 3 that one of his teammates got a match fixing proposal, plunging the tournament further into controversy. That same day, Sachin Timalsena, one of the tournament’s official commentators, announced that he was leaving his job because he had found suspicious activities going on.
Furthermore, Seven3Sports managing director Jatin Ahluwalia has reportedly fled to India during the middle of the tournament and he is not in contact with CAN officials.
Currently three separate bodies—National Sports Council, International Cricket Council and Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police—are investigating the fixing issues.