KATHMANDU, Dec 26: Armed Police Force (APF) Club, Region No 6 (Baitadi) and Region No 8 (Pokhara) confirmed semifinal berths in the Pepsi Standard Chartered T20 National Cricket Tournament on Wednesday.
Baitadi defeated Region No 5 (Nepalgunj) by 10 wickets to maintain its winning streak and top Pool B of the tournament.
Baitadi has six points from three matches. Region No 7 (Janakpur) defeated Region No 8 (Pokhara) by five wickets on Wednesday but the latter qualified for the semifinals with a superior net run rate as both the teams have two points each.
Prakash Bista (Sky Blue) from Region No.3 Kathmandu falls short of his crease. (Photo: Bijay Rai)
At TU Ground, Kirtipur, Nepalgunj elected to bat but Baitadi bundled the team out for 100 runs in 17.3 overs. Man-of-the-match Santosh Bhatta completed a five-wicket haul for Baitadi while Bhuwan Karki and Binod Lama claimed two wickets each. Mahesh Chhetri (25 runs off 20 balls) and Bhupendra Thapa (20 runs off 29 balls) were the biggest contributors for Nepalgunj.
In reply, opener Binod Bhandari blasted 76 runs off 54 balls and Saroj Rawal scored 20 runs off 36 balls to guide Baitadi to a comprehensive 10-wicket victory. Bhandari struck seven fours and five sixes.
Meanwhile, in a crucial match of Pool B, Pokhara elected to bat and put up 137/9 in 20 overs. Janakpur would have qualified for the semifinals had it met the target in 11.4 overs. However, Janakpur took 13 overs to reach the target. Rahul BK made 50 runs off 34 balls for Pokhara while Amrit Shrestha chipped in with 24 runs and Akash Thapa scored 22 runs to guide Pokhara to a competitive total.
Janakpur opener Anil Mandal, who took three wickets, shone with the bat also. Man-of-the-match Mandal clobbered 94 runs off 54 balls with 10 fours and 3 sixes. However, Rahul BK claimed three wickets and Pradip Kharel claimed a wicket to slow down Janakpur´s innings and secure a semifinal berth for Pokhara.
After the match, Janakpur skipper Kumar Prasoon announced his retirement from national cricket tournaments but said he would continue his cricket career in club and other formats.
Likewise, APF reached the semifinals from Pool A on Wednesday. APF has six points from three matches while Region No 4 (Bhairahawa) and Region No 1 (Biratnagar) have four points each from three matches. Bhairahawa and Biratnagar will face each other in the last group stage match on Thursday.
Bhairahawa edged past Region No 2 (Birgunj) by 29 runs on Wednesday while Biratnagar pulled off a 19-run victory over Region No 3 (Kathmandu) at the Pulchowk Engineering Ground, Lalitpur.
Bhairahawa elected to bat and was all out for 142 runs in 19.3 overs. Nischal Chaudhary (24 runs), Krishna Karki (24 runs) and Subash Pradhan (22 runs) were the major contributors for Bhairahawa while Jitendra Mukhiya and Narayan Patel dismissed three batsmen each.
Birgunj managed to reach only 113/9 in 20 overs as Sushan Bhari, who had scored 13 runs earlier, claimed three wickets. Moinuddin Khan and Bibek Chaudhary claimed two wickets each. Jitendra Mukhiya (30 runs) and Kanchan Thapa (23 runs) were the top two scorers for Birgunj. Bhari was adjudged the man-of-the-match.
Meanwhile, Biratnagar put up 146/5 in 20 overs and restricted Kathmandu to 127/9 in 20 overs to revive its semifinal hopes. Man-of-the-match Sunny Pun hit 50 runs off 53 balls and Manoj Mandal remained unbeaten on 43 runs off 26 balls for Biratnagar. Bijay Gautam took three wickets for Kathmandu.
Chasing the total, Pramod Basnet scored 52 runs off 37 balls but could not guide Kathmandu to victory. Mehboob Alam and Pushpa Thapa claimed two wickets each for Biratnagar.