Rhinos storm into PPL final

Pokhara, November 4

Chitwan Rhinos defeated Hulas Kathmandu Royals by six wickets in the eliminator to advance to the final of the Namaste Pokhara Premier League here at the Pokhara Stadium grounds today.

Electing to bat first, Royals were bowled out for a paltry 94 runs in 19.3 overs before Rhinos reached 95-4 with 10 balls to spare. Rhinos will face home team, Pokhara Paltan in Tuesday’s final.

Sunny Patel ran riot taking the first three wickets — Amit Shrestha (nine), Pawan Sarraf (naught) and Gaurav Tomar (one) — with just 17 runs on the board and Rhinos Paras Khadka trapped Naresh Budayair (one) leg before to reduce Royals to 30-4 inside 4.3 overs.

Jaykrishan Kolsawal and Aadil Khan (eight) added 38 runs for the fifth wicket. Kolsawal scored 25 off 37 balls that included two fours. Royals then lost last five wickets for 14 runs in five overs. Skipper Gyanendra Malla fought a lonely battle scoring 30 off 35 balls hitting two fours, while Aadil Khan was the lone Royals batsman who struck a six in their innings. Sunny Patel returned with the figures of 3-9 from four overs, while Smit Patel (2-19) and Bhuvan Karki (2-10) claimed two wickets apiece and skipper Khadka and Karan KC bagged a wicket each.

Rhinos also failed to make a desired start to their run chase losing opener Anil Kumar Sah (one) and skipper Khadka (two) with just 14 runs on the board. Royals reduced Rhinos to 31-3 inside six overs after Sarraf had Harishankar Shah caught by Gaurav Tomar.

But Smit Patel and Aarif Sheikh added 57 runs for the fourth wicket to take the team close to victory. Smit Patel struck three fours in his 43-ball 38, while Sheikh remained unbeaten on 20 off 32 balls and Sunny Patel — who was later named the man of the match — scored six not out. Susan Bhari claimed 3-18 for Royals, while Sarraf took one wicket.

Pokhara Paltan had advanced to the final as the table toppers after the round robin league of the six-team franchise-based premium Twenty20 cricket tournament, while Rhinos and Royals had qualified for the eliminator as second and third teams respectively in the table. Expert Dhangadhi Blues, Butwal Blasters and Biratnagar Titans were eliminated after the league.

The champions will earn Rs 2.7 million — the highest prize money in domestic cricket tournament, while the runners-up will get one million rupees.