Perfect Police reach finalA six-wicket victory against Gandaki secured Police a spot in the top two with two matches in hand.
Nepal Police Club became the first team to progress into the final of the Prime Minister’s Cup Men’s National Cricket Tournament on Monday.
Police defeated Gandaki Province by six wickets in Mulpani to secure their position in the title match with two matches in hand. The wins gave them 14 points from seven matches—meaning no teams in the 10-team standings will be able to leapfrog them from the top-two position.
They have maintained a perfect record this season and are also the top favourites to win the trophy.
Tribhuvan Army Club are the other top contenders for the final.
They defeated Sudurpaschim Province by 97 runs at the TU Cricket Ground to climb to the second position in the table. They have 12 points and have a match in hand.
In output means, Bagmati Province and Madhesh Province—both of whom have 12 points after playing all nine matches—are now out of the top-two race. But their chance to finish in the top four position and qualify for the Men’s Elite Trophy is alive.
Police—who boast the national stars like Kushal Bhurtel, Dipendra Singh Airee, Karan KC and Lalit Rajbanshi—were the only team to have kept their winning streak and continued their momentum at the Mulpani Cricket Ground, courtesy of a five-wicket haul from Rashid Khan and a half-century from Dilip Nath.
Khan returned the match figures of 5-25 to help Police, who invited Gandaki to bat first, restricted their opponents to 170 all out in 38.3 overs.
Tailender Amrit Gurung scored a fifty facing 39 deliveries to guide Gandaki to a moderate total after their top and middle-order failed to impress much.
Kamal Pariyar (30 runs off 26 balls) and Karan Pangeni (30 runs off 54 balls) provided the second highest score for Gandkai.
Rajbanshi and KC picked two wickets each, while Airee also pocketed one for Police.
In the chase, Nath smashed 57 runs off 39 balls and put on an 88-run stand with Arjun Saud, who played 44 not out, in the first power play to guide Police to 171-4 in 34.2 overs.
Sandeep Parajuli took 2-21 for Gandaki. Bipin Khatri and Pariyar also grabbed one apiece.
Police will look to continue their winning run against Lumbini and Sudurpaschim in their remaining two fixtures.
Army have also put one foot in the final and need to defeat Gandaki on Thursday to ensure their progress.
Army, who also have national stars in Sompal Kami, Kushal Malla and Bibek Yadav, had to survive a scare from Bhoj Raj Bhatta to pull off a thrilling victory against Sudurpaschim.
Army were in serious trouble at 88-6 after Raj Bhatta struck four times to demolish the Army batting order.
But half-centurion Malla (75) and Basir Ahamad (36) steadied their innings with a 113-runs stand before Kami (31) and Shahab Alam (21) steered Army to 262 all out in 48.3 overs.
Malla cracked 10 fours and three sixes in this 67-ball knock. Malla, Kami and Alam all fell to Raj Bhatta, who took 6-63.
Naren Saud also took three wickets for Sudurpaschim.
Sudurpaschim were never in the case, thanks to Jitendra Mukhiya impressive figures of 5-10.
Mukhiya rattled Sudurpaschim’s top order removing opener Khadak Bohora for a golden duck, Naren Bhatta (18) and Bohora’s opening partners and captain Raju Rijal (6) to trigger the collapse.
Sudurpaschim were reeling at 6-89 after Alam, Malla and Ahamad struck but Kiran Thagunna staged a fight back with a half-century (68 runs off 74 balls) to take Sudurpaschim to 143-6.
But, after Mukhiya trapped Thagunna leg before in the 35.5 overs, Sudurpaschim could not recover and bundled out for 165 in 40.1 overs.
Sudurpaschim, on eight points, still have two matches in hand but their hopes to end the group stage in the top four position face a serious challenge from Police and Armed Police Force Club.
APF, who also have eight points, are fifth and will need to beat both Sudurpaschim and Karnali Province in their remaining fixtures to stand any chance of securing a spot in the top four.