Das guides Birgunj to victory, semis

Kathmandu, June 19:

Skipper Binod Das guided Region No 2 (Birgunj) to a two-wicket win over Region No 1 (Biratnagar) and ensured a place in the semi-finals of the Shikhar Senior One-day National Cricket Tournament here at the Tribhuvan University Stadium on Tuesday.

With the result, Birgunj joined Kathmandu in the semi-finals at the expense of Nepalgunj from Group A. Defending champions Birgunj were in a must-win situation to ascertain their place in the last four after they were tied with Nepalgunj on one point they had shared in a washed out game.

Kathmandu had already booked their place in the semi-finals with three points after beating Nepalgunj. Birgunj, however, topped the group with the day’s result.

Electing to bat first, Biratnagar were all out for 135 runs in 44 overs and Birgunj chased the total with only eight balls to spare in their allotted 50 overs.

Biratnagar were reeling at 88-8 in the 32nd over but the 51-run stand for the ninth wicket between Kushal Tuladhar and Santosh Baral gave some respectability to their total. Kushal scored 62-ball 25 while Baral made 21 off 23 deliveries including a six. Ratan Rauniyar (19), Sunil Subedi (14), opener Puspa Thapa (12) and skipper Unil Shrestha (10) were other major contributors for Biratnagar.

Sanjam Regmi (3-21) and Kumar Prasun (3-28) took the bowling honours for Birgunj. Santosh Karn claimed 2-29, while skipper Das claimed one wicket in his economical (12 runs) nine overs. Raj Mohammed bagged the other wicket.

Birgunj too had disastrous start losing opener Bikash Dali (0) in the third ball of the innings. Wickets kept on falling in regular intervals but Das (42) stood defiant at the other end. Das, who was later declared man of the match, was out in the 45th over but not before taking his team close to the victory. Mehboob Alam dismissed Birgunj skipper at 125-8, 11 runs short of victory target. Das’ 89-ball knock included two fours and a six. Raj Mohammed (8) and Kumar Prasun (4) then saw their team home in 48.2 overs. Alam returned with 2-21 in 10 overs and Lakpa Lama took 2-19 off 10 overs. Manjit Shrestha, Santosh Baral and Bhawesh Thapa bagged one wicket each.

Birgunj will face Kathmandu in the first semi-final match on Wednesday, while Bhairahawa will take on Biratnagar in the other match on Thursday.