In the first match held at the Tribhuvan University Cricket Ground in Kirtipur on Saturday, Kathmandu Knights’ chances of entering the playoffs of the Nepal Twenty20 League became weak after they lost to Biratnagar Super Kings by seven wickets.
However, in the second match, Pokhara Avengers surrendered the result of 41 runs against Far West United and Kathmandu proved to be lucky and managed to enter the playoffs. With this, the four teams that will reach the playoffs have been decided. When Kathmandu lost in the first game, Pokhara was in fifth place with 6 points from 9 games. Kathmandu was in fourth place with eight points from 10 games. A win over Far West was enough for Pokhara to enter the playoffs. However, Far West, who won the toss and batted, prepared a strong total of 187 runs losing five wickets in the scheduled 20 overs due to the explosive batting of captain Hasmatullah Shahidi and opener Vinod Bhandari.
Hasmatullah and Vinod put on an excellent partnership of 132 runs for the first wicket for Far West’s mammoth total. Hasmatullah scored 67 runs in 51 balls with 6 fours and two sixes. Vinod hit 59 runs in 47 balls. There were 6 fours and two sixes in his innings. Abhimanyu Mithun of Pokhara took two wickets and Pratish Ji took one wicket. After losing five consecutive matches in the league, Pokhara then won three consecutive matches and maintained the possibility of entering the playoffs. However, with the defeat in the last two games, Pokhara’s journey was limited to the league stage. Chasing a target of 188 runs for victory, Pokhara scored only 146 runs in 18.1 overs.
At the end of the 12th over, Pokhara, which was in a position of 78-4, added 24 and 21 runs in the 13th and 14th overs, respectively. Pratish Ji added 34 runs off 11 balls with the help of five sixes. Siddhant Lohani scored 28 runs off 25 balls with the help of one four and two sixes. After Pratish and Siddhant returned to the pavilion, none of the other Pokhara batsmen could perform well.
Durgesh Gupta of Far West took three wickets and Shahidi and Prakash Jaisi took two wickets each. With Pokhara’s defeat, the league’s playoff equation was also completed. Lumbini All Stars and Janakpur Royals, who are in excellent shape in the ongoing league, have already made it to the playoffs as the top two. At the end of the same 10 games, top position Lumbini has 16 points and second position Janakpur has 14 points. The first playoff meeting between these two teams has been confirmed. The winner between these two teams will make it to the finals.
The losing team in the first qualifier will compete against the winner of the eliminator in the second qualifier for entry to the finals. The third place Biratnagar and the fourth place Kathmandu are competing in the eliminator. With the victory over Kathmandu, Biratnagar secured the third position by adding 10 points from 10 games. Biratnagar completed the target of 155 runs presented by Kathmandu in 18.4 overs with the loss of only three wickets. When opener Arjun Saud returned to the pavilion on the first ball of the third over, Biratnagar had 21 runs in their account.
For the second wicket, opener Gauransu Sharma and captain Rohit Paudel put on a partnership of 94 runs for the second wicket to lift Biratnagar’s innings. Rohit added 66 runs in 42 balls with the help of five fours and three sixes. Gauransu remained unbeaten on 51 off 49 balls with four fours. Hussain Talat added 22 runs. He hit two fours and a six off 12 balls. Kathmandu’s Avinash Bohora took two wickets.
Earlier, Kathmandu, who won the toss and elected to bat, lost 6 wickets in the scheduled 20 overs and made a total of 154 runs. Kathmandu’s Santosh Karki and Alex Blake scored 34 and Sandeep Razali added 30 runs. Captain Gyanendra Mall remained not out for 22 runs off 13 balls with two fours and a six. Raj Nanan of Biratnagar took four wickets in four overs with a maiden at the expense of only 13 runs.