CAN-XI stun PCB Academy

Kathmandu, May 11:

Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) XI pulled off a thrilling 15-run victory over Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Academy XI in the third and final friendly match, thanks to a patient batting by Shakti Gauchan and superb spell from Sanjam Regmi.

Batting first after make-shift opener Paras Khadka won the toss, CAN-XI were bowled out for 136 runs in 38.2 overs before restricting the visitors for 121 in 28.3 overs. The visitors looked as dangerous as they were in the previous two matches. They reduced the home side to 45/6 in 11 overs and hammered Nepali bowlers for 47 runs in two overs in reply. But it was Shakti Gauchan with the bat and Sanjam Regmi with the ball turned the things around. Gauchan scored an unbeaten 50 - the first half century by a Nepali player in the series - under pressure, while Sanjam returned to rattled down the Pakistani batting line-up with his off spin.

“It was a very good morale boosting win for us,” conceded Nepal’s coach Roy Luke Dias. “They (PCB Academy) are a very very strong side and they never give up things easily,” he added, thanking Shakti Gauchan for his valiant effort with both bat and the ball.

“A good captaincy from Paras (Khadka) was the turning point of the match,” said Dias. “After the opening bowlers were hammered for 47 runs in the first two overs, Paras brought in Shakti Gauchan and Basanta Regmi. He then replaced Shakti with Sanjam and later gave the ball to Sharad Vesawkar. That was a very good captaincy from Paras,” said the former Sri Lankan Test player.

Dias also praised wicketkeeper Mahesh Chhetri, who took to the field in the latter part innings despite being hit by the ball in his toe. “He is a gutsy player. He batted despite being injured and later helped boost the spinners’ confidence with the gloves,” he added. Dipendra Chaudhary had replaced Mahesh in the wicket-keeping job after sustaing injury in his foot during their batting.

The PCB Academy had a blistering start scoring 47 runs from the first two overs. Amrit Bhattarai conceded five fours in the first over, while Dhirendra Chand was hit for four boundaries and a six. Makeshift captain Paras Khadka immediately brought in spinners from both the ends to check the run-rate and that worked. Shakti Gauchan and Basanta Regmi conceded just one run each in the next two overs.

Openers Ahamad Shahzad and Raheel Majeed put on 63 runs on the board in six overs before Shakti had Majeed caught by Gyanendra Malla the very next over. Majeed hit five fours and a six in his 14-ball 27. Shahzad followed soon when Sharad Vesawkar took a well-judged catch off Basanta in the next over. Khurram Nazir was snapped by substitute Raj Kumar Pradhan off Basanta in the 10th over and Sanjam dismissed Khalid Latif to reduce the visitors to 91-4. Latif hit four fours in his 22-ball 20 before being trapped leg before wicket.

The PCB Academy players came under tremendous pressure when Sanjam got three more wickets and Basanta added one more to his scalp reducing the visitors for 108-9. The visitors lost their five wickets for just 17 runs.

Sanjam completed his five-wicket haul when he had Shoail Khan (6) caught by Sharad Vesawkar. Sanjam returned with the figures of 8.3-4-6-5 and earned the man of the match award. Basanta took 3-28, Shakti 1-21 in five overs and Vesawkar 1-18 in five overs.

The PCB Academy coach Ijaz Ahmed was dissapointed with the way his boys took the match. “We lost the match because they (Nepali side) played very well,” said the former Pakistani Test player. “I will be the one who will be very happy if Nepal play the World Cup,” he said.

Earlier, Nepal made a disastrous start losing Gyanendra Malla for a duck. Opener Paresh Lohani and Sharad Vesawkar added 18 runs for the second wicket before Vesawkar was dismissed in the fourth over. Paresh (11) also returned after adding 13 runs with Shakti Gauchan, making it 33-3 in 4.5 overs.

CAN-XI were reeling at 45-6 in 11 overs after they lost Basanta Regmi (2), Paras Khadka (1) and Dipendra Chaudhary (0) cheaply. But Shakti and Mahesh Chhetri kept the score ticking. The duo shared a stand of 56 runs for the seventh wicket before wicketkeeper Chhetri was dismissed by Syed Imad Wasim.

Dhirendra Chand (0) and Sanjam Regmi (5) failed to support Shakti who then partnered

with last-man Amrit Bhattarai. The two added 26 runs before Bhattarai was caught behind

by Sarfaraz Ahmed off Sohail Khan. Shakti’s unbeaten 50 came off 109 balls and included five fours and a six.

PCB Academy won the first match by seven wickets on Thursday and defeated the home side by 109 runs in the second match on Friday.