Biratnagar Warriors ride on Babar Hayat to crush Bhairahawa Gladiators to reach EPL final

KATHMANDU: Biratnagar Warriors rode on Babar Hayat's scintillating innings to thrash Bhairahawa Gladiators by eight wickets and 18 balls to spare in qualifier match to reach final of the TVS Everest Premier League played at the TU Cricket Stadium, on Wednesday.

After winning the toss, Biratnagar Warriors elected to field first, pitch expected to assist bowlers in a foggy morning. Warriors then skittle Gladiators for paltry score of 127/8 and raced to victory with eight wickets and three overs to spare.

Skipper Paras Khadka drew the first blood by cleaning up Gladiators opening batsman Bupendra Thapa in the second overs of the innings.

Basanta Regmi snared the wicket of Rahul Yadav and Sri Lankan recruit Weladage Sahan Adeesha Appuhami right-arm medium-fast bowler removed skipper Sarad Veswakar caught behind by the wicket keeper Aasif Sheikh.

At one stage, Gladiators were reeling for 3/18 in the 6.2 overs. Veswakar departed contributing 8 runs off 11 balls with a hit to the fence.

Appuhami then served a pith of a delivery that nipped back to crash stumps though defense of Rohit Kumar Paudel bat's leaving Gladiator tottering at 4/27 in 8 overs.

Wicket-keeper batsman Aarif Sheikh and Punit Mishra combined for 82 runs partnership for the fifth wicket to set a formidable target for an inform team of the tournament.

Mishra top scored with 49 runs failing one short of a fine half century to rookie Karan KC in the penultimate over. He hit three fours and three massive sixes.

Sheikh scored 46 runs off 35 balls that included one four and three maximums. Except these two batsmen, others failed to scored double digit runs.

Fast bowlers KC and Appuhami took two wickets each while skipper Khadka, and spinner duo Regmi and Karn chipped in with two wickets.

In pursuit of 127 runs for victory and final at stake, Warriors made a disastrous start loosing opening batsman Aasif Sheikh for golden duck in the third ball with just one run recorded on board of their innings.

Harishanka Shah bowled Sheikh, giving his team hope of defending a paltry score in a pressure game.

Hong Kong duo Anshuman Rath and Babar Hayat then shared a 74 runs partnership for the second wicket and laid the foundation for a comfortable victory.

Hayat played aggressively for 62 runs off 44 balls which included four fours and five sixes that propelled his team to a comprehensive victory.

Man of the Match Hayat departed while trying to up the ante bowled by Punit Mishra still needing 56 runs more for victory.

Skipper Paras Khadka and Rath then added 56 runs and took the team home with three overs to spare.

Khadka smashed 42 runs off just 24 balls with two fours and four sixes while Rath played sensibly for his 26 runs off 32 balls with just two fours.

There was nothing for Gladiators bowlers as Harishankar Shah and Punit Mishra took a wicket each.

At the end of 15th over Warriors needed 20 runs off 30 balls. Skipper Khadka scored 14 runs of his counterpart smashing two towering sixes.

Khadka then stole a single off the last ball to keep strike with himself still needing six runs of 24 balls.

Punit Mishra bowled two dots before delivering a loose delivery which went for four off Khadka's bat.

Khadka then took a single to tie the score before Anshuman Rath hit four to victory. Bhairahawa Gladiators will play the winner of today's eliminator match between Pokhara Rhinos and Lalitpur Patriots tomorrow.

Winner between today's eliminator and Bhairahawa Gladiators will meet the Biratnagar Warrior in the ultimate showdown of the TVS Everest Premier League.

The winner will receive cash prize of Rs 2.1 million.