Everest Premier League: Kings XI wins, secures playoff berthKathmandu Kings XI brought a halt to Bhairahawa Gladiators’ three-match winning streak to enter the Everest Premier League playoffs with a comprehensive seven-wicket victory on Saturday.
Kathmandu Kings XI brought a halt to Bhairahawa Gladiators’ three-match winning streak to enter the Everest Premier League playoffs with a comprehensive seven-wicket victory on Saturday.
Kings XI rode its luck after winning the toss and restricted Gladiators to 149-4. Stand-in skipper Rohan Mustafa and his opening partner Amit Shrestha gave a desired start with a half century stand before Irish recruit Kevin O’Brien finished off the chase guiding Kings XI to 153-3 in 19.2 overs. The victory lifted Kings XI to third with six points from four matches staying behind table-toppers Lalitpur Patriots and second-placed Gladiators, who are ahead on net run rate. Kings XI plays its last game against Biratnagar Warriors which is fourth with four points from four matches.
Warriors and Chitwan Tigers are still in hunt for playoffs with four points each. If Warriors defeats Kings XI in their last league match, the Paras Khadka-led side would become the final team to qualify for the playoffs.
Mustafa and Shrestha gave brisk start to Kings XI adding 68 runs for the first wicket to lay the foundation for victory. Skipper Sharad Vesawkar finally gave Gladiators the breakthrough bowling Mustafa as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) skipper made a 24-ball 36 with three fours and two sixes. Shrestha added another 44 for the second wicket with Sagar Pun (13) to virtually throw Gladiators out of contest. Shrestha became the first local player to score a half century and was out for 51, his a 46-ball knock included four boundaries and two sixes.
Kings XI did lose Pun but O’Brien comfortably steered the team home smashing a 15-ball 33 with five boundaries and a six. Bhuwan Karki also took a wicket for Gladiators. Man-of-the-match Shrestha was happy with the morale boosting innings. “I was under pressure because I was unable to score run in the previous tournament (Pokhara Premier League) as well. I didn’t even have good start to this tournament but this innings has brought my confidence back,” said Shrestha crediting Mustafa for easing the pressure off him.
Mustafa said the game was not easy. “To be honest, they played really well in the end to put a decent total on the board. We started well but the match was still 50-50. I am just happy the guys did well today. The guys are taking responsibility and its a good sign to see Kevin batting till the end,” said Mustafa.
The morning conditions helped Kings XI bowlers who contained Gladiators batsmen before Ravi Inder Singh and Vesawkar provided a late lift. Jitendra Mukhiya, O’Brien and Pradeep Sahu picked up a wicket each reducing Gladiators to 40-3 inside nine overs. Singh and Vesawkar then consolidated the innings and upped the ante late in the innings. Singh, who had struck a scintillating 125 not out off 60 in a record 216-run chase against Pokhara Rhinos, scored unbeaten 86 from 61 balls with six boundaries and four sixes.
Singh and Vesawkar added 109 runs for the fourth wicket before Vesawkar was bowled by Mukhiya in the last ball of the innings. Vesawkar scored 39 off 31 with three fours and a six. Vesawkar said his side was given a reality check. “Its good that we had to face this sort of situation before the playoffs. Now we can sit back and assess where we put our foot wrong. This will help us in making comeback in the tournament,” said Vesawkar.