Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC) completed a sensational debut in cricket ending the domination of Nepal APF Club by lifting the Pepsi Standard Chartered National Twenty20 Cricket Tournament title here at the TU Stadium today.
Skipper Binod Bhandari was the difference as TAC defeated a mighty APF side, studded with national players, by five wickets in a match reduced to 16-over-a-side due to rain delay. APF made a modest 112-7 and Binod-inspired TAC reached 116-5 with four balls to spare.
APF looked like defending their title when at 73-4, TAC required 40 runs to win from the last four overs but one bad over from veteran spinner Shakti Gauchan turned the match upside down. Binod and Rajesh Pulami Magar (12) hit a six each in the 12th over with a latter also hitting a boundary and in between three singles brought the match evenly placed with TAC requiring 21 from 18.
Skipper Paras Khadka relieved APF with the scalp of Rajesh in the first ball of the 17th over conceding just five runs. In an eventful 15th over bowled by Amrit Bhattarai, Basanta Regmi dropped Binod at square leg and the batsman made the most of it hitting the left arm seamer for a flat six making eight to win from nine.
After a single, Indra Kamal Manandhar (five not out) hit Amrit for a four and two leg byes at the end of the over virtually sealed the game for TAC. Binod then sealed the match in style hitting Basanta for a four at the long off. Man-of-the-final Binod remained unbeaten on 30 off 22 with two boundaries and two sixes.
Binod said he played the game he wanted adding the drop catch turned the game. “It was most experienced Basanta dropping the catch and that made me confident that we were going to win now,” said Binod.
Anil Mandal had put TAC in the game stroking 23 off 21 with two boundaries and a six. Naresh Budhayer (13) and Sagar Pun (11) also chipped invaluable runs to the total. Shakti and Paras took two wickets for APF with Bhuwan Karki snapping one.
Earlier, Pradeep Airee top scored for APF with 27 off 31 with two boundaries and a six and Dipendra Chaudhary made sure there will be a challenging total with a cameo of 11-ball 19 hitting one each four and a boundary. Paras made 16 off nine with two maximum, while Subash Khakurel (14) and Sharad Vesawkar (12) made runs in double figures.
Chandra Saud and Rahul Kumar BK picked up two wickets for TAC. Sagar Pun, Avinash Karn and Rajesh Pulami also had one scalp apiece. Paras said having big names in the team doesn’t make you a winner everytime.
“People think that APF win because they have good players but that is not the case because at the end of the day performance counts. They are a good side and won it by their performance,” said Paras.
Winners TAC got Rs 125,000 and runners-up APF took Rs 75,000. Player of the series Mahesh Chhetri of Region-V (Nepalgunj) who slammed three half centuries in the tournament got Rs 15,000. Gyanendra Malla of APF and Aakash Bista of Nepalgunj were declared the best batsman and bowler respectively and got Rs 10,000 each. Aakash was also adjudged the emerging player and was honoured by the Nepali Cricket Fan Club with Rs 20,000.