Rhinos, Blues win to send PPL wide open

Pokhara, November 1

Chitwan Rhinos and Expert Dhangadhi Blues won their matches to send the Namaste Pokhara Premier League wide open with five teams accumulating four points each.

At the Pokhara Stadium grounds, Rhinos defeated Hulas Kathmandu Royals by 13 runs, while Blues beat Butwal Blasters by 20 runs for their second victories.

After the day’s results, five teams — Blasters, Pokhara Paltan, Rhinos, Royals and Blues — all have accumulated four points each and they are separated by net run rate.

The home side, Paltan and Royals have played three matches each, while other three have one game in hand. Only Biratnagar Titans, led by Sandeep Lamichhane, are out of race after losing three matches. With one match to play, Titans have two points. As per the tournament regulations, top side will make it to the final, while the winners of the match between second and third placed teams will enter the final.

On Thursday, national team skipper Paras Khadka’s Rhinos posted 149-5 in 20 overs before the Royals managed 136-9. Royals’ openers Harishankar Shah and Anil Kumar Sah made bright start adding 54 runs in 7.2 overs before the latter fell to Basant Regmi, trapped leg before for run-a-ball 27 that included three fours and a six.

Skipper Paras Khadka hit a six in his run-a-ball 14 before Shah and Smit Patel added 55 runs for the third wicket. Man-of-the-match Shah scored a quick fire 60 off 49 balls with the help of five boundaries and three sixes.

Patel was run out for 31 off 24 balls that included three fours and a six, while another foreign recruit, Sunny Patel struck a six in his seven-ball 13.

Basant Regmi picked 2-21 for Royals, while Nandan Kumar Yadav and Pawan Sarraf claimed one wicket each.

In reply, Gaurav Tomar scored a fluent 39 off 35 balls hitting four fours and a six, while Royals skipper Gyanendra Malla made a quick fire 22-ball 30 with the help of three fours and a six. Pawan Sarraf also scored 28 off 22 balls hitting three fours and a six, while opener Jaykrishan Kolsawal struck four fours in his 14-ball 18.

Karan KC was the pick of the Rhinos bowlers taking 3-34, while skipper Khadka claimed 2-23. Sunny Patel, Smit Patel and Bhuvan Karki bagged a wicket each.

In another match, Blues posted 161-4 in 20 overs before restricting Blasters to 141-6. Blues were under pressure at 39-3 in 6.3 overs after they lost openers Dilip Nath (10) and Shubhendu Pandey (10) along with Peter Trego (14).

Dan Lawrence and skipper Dipendra Singh Airee then revived the innings with a 108-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Lawrence scored 52 off 39 balls hitting three fours and two sixes, while Airee remained unbeaten on 39-ball 56 that included four fours and two sixes. Saurav Khanal struck one each four and six in his unbeaten 13 off just four balls.

Bipin Khatri took 2-22 for Blasters, while Rohan Mustafa and Avinash Bohara claimed one wicket each.

In reply, Chirag Suri scored a fluent unbeaten half century but that was not enough for the team. The UAE cricketer clobbered 12 boundaries and a six in his 79 not out off just 54 balls.

Mustafa, who scored 20 off 19 balls hitting two fours and a six, was the second best scorer, while Siddhant Lohani and skipper Sompal Kami contributed 12 each.

Sagar Dhakal took 2-23 for Blues, while man-of-the-match Lawrence and Kamal Singh Airee claimed one wicket each.

On Friday, Expert Dhangadhi Blues will take on Pokhara Paltan, while Butwal Blasters face Hulas Kathmandu Royals.