Snail-paced Dhamala hands Police Prime Minister CupThe opener scores a frustrating 131-ball 42 not out in chase of a lowly 126 in the final match
Sunil Dhamala played one of the slowest innings at the Tribhuvan University Stadium but handed the title of Prime Minister Cup One-Day National cricket tournament to Nepal Police Club following a six-wicket victory over Tribhuvan Army Club.
The clash between the departmental giants began with Army’s dominance when their surprise opener Sompal Kami gave them a decent start with a half century stand. Army were going strong at 100-2 but they went on to lose last eight wickets for just 25 runs after left arm spinner Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi and right arm slow bowler Pawan Sarraf wreaked havoc.
NPC were expected to scamper to victory in a short time but Dhamala decided to glue to the crease and carried the bat with 42 runs in his 131-ball sluggish innings leading the team across the finishing line in 40.3 overs. Dhamala’s painstaking innings included just two boundaries. His extra cautious effort frustrated TAC bowlers who at one stage were back in the game reducing NPC to 89-5 in 29.2 overs.
“The score was not that big and it provided the luxury for him (Dhamala) to switch to defensive gears. Had we managed to put 200 plus score, his game would have surely been different,” said a frustrated Army skipper Binod Bhandari adding his side failed in a crunch situation. “We had had a brilliant start but played some irresponsible shots. Our batting, specially the middle order, completely failed in the final.”
Army drew the first blood in the second over when Anil Sah (two) lofted seamer Karan KC over covers only to hole out a catch to Shahab Alam. In came Amit Shrestha who began to ease the chase with some lusty hittings and forged a crucial 52-run partnership Dhamala. During this stand, Shrestha not only overtook Dhamala but also put his team in a strong position.
Shrestha was out after the lunch losing his wicket to Alam after making a 40-ball 44 with six boundaries and two sixes. With Dhamala not offering any shots, Army managed to strangulate NPC and reduced them to 102-6 in 34 overs. But Dhamala and skipper Manjeet Shrestha (11 not out) negotiated with the target without any hurry.
Karan KC took 3-35 from 9.3 overs and Alam bowled economically in his 2-25 from 10. Dhamala, who hit two boundaries in the match, was satisfied with what he did. “More than playing big shots, I was planning to take the game. There were a lot of dot balls but I enjoyed the game because the match was already in our hand after bundling out the opponents cheaply,” said Dhamala.
The first 15 overs of the final belonged to Army openers Kami and Raju Rijal who added 72 runs for the first wicket to lay a foundation. Rajbanshi gave the breakthrough dismissing Kami and next over Sagar Dhakal got rid of Rijal. U-19 skipper Rohit Kumar Paudel (18) hit two fours and a six
while adding 28 runs for the third wicket with Hari Bahadur Chauhan (four).
But once Paudel lost his wicket to Rajbanshi, Army went through a terrible collapse. Bhim Sharki accounted for 20 runs out of 25 that Army’s last eight batsmen managed. Man-of-the-final Rajbanshi returned the figures of 4-35 from 9.3 and Sarraf took 4-12 from seven. Kami top scored for TAC with a 40-ball 35 hitting three fours and two sixes.
Rijal, who ended up as tournament’s best batsman, made 32 from 60 balls with five boundaries. With three half centuries from six matches, consistent Raju accumulated a total of 261 runs with an average of 43.50.
Rajbanshi stands tall
Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi capped a memorable Prime Minister Cup One-Day National after the left arm spinner ended up as the man-of-the-series and best bowler in a tournament participated in by country’s top notch cricketers.
Rajbanshi had replaced veteran left armer Basanta Regmi during Nepal’s historic One Day and Twenty20 International Series triumph in the United Arab Emirates in January and February this year. His performance in the country’s biggest domestic tournament will be crucial in staking his claims for a continuous place in senior side.
Rajbanshi, whose 4-36 was the cornerstone in NPC’s six-wicket victory over Army in the final, amassed a total of 20 wickets with an economy of 2.89. His closest contender Shahab Alam, another left arm spinner, of Army took 16 wickets. “It was a good tournament for me and everything went according to the plan. The team has a plan with me and I am happy to have executed it to perfection,” said Rajbanshi.
Nepalaya, sports council shock players
Prime Minister Cup One-Day National organisers National Sports Council and its event manager Nepalaya International Pvt Ltd have shocked the players after reducing the awards for the best individuals of the tournament. Prior to the tournament, Nepalaya and NSC had jointly announced a motorcycle to the man-of-the-series and Rs 50,000 to the best bowler, batsman and emerging cricketer.
However, after the final match was over on Saturday, man-of-the-series Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi was handed a cheque of Rs 50,000 and other individuals were given Rs 30,000 apiece. NSC Member Secretary Keshav Kumar Bista decided to play blame game. “We (NSC) were supposed to managed the cash award for the winners and runners-up which we did. Rest of the awards needed to be given by event managers,” Bista told the Post.
“I will try to understand what exactly happened in this case. But I would assure that the players will get the rewards as promised prior to the event,” added Bista. Nepalaya Managing Director Subash Pradhan, also a former national cricketer, could not be reached for his comment.