December 30, 2017 06:59 PM NPT
By: Rajan Shah
The crowd makes it all special
A new record for most numbers of fans in Nepal’s domestic cricket was made. The official ticket seller confirmed it to be more than 15000. By the naked eyes, it seemed much more. The social media is full of pictures from the ground. Nepal skipper and Biratnagar captain Paras Khadka wasn’t expecting this many, but he was getting the ACC tournament vibes. This makes nobody happier than the organizers who are in a continuous quest to develop a cricket watching culture in the country to make the sport more professional and economically viable. It now has opened more gates for the mega private companies to invest in. Yes, there were many factors like Paras Khadka, or even Binod Das as COO of the tournament, and then international stars like Anshuman Rath and Babar Hayat. Everything culminated into something special. The crowd has given the green signal. This thing can grow bigger and better in coming years.
Stepping up Sah
Anshuman Rath was Paras Khadka’s go to part-time bowler throughout the tournament. Khadka kept giving Rath all the important overs under his belt before the qualifiers and finals. Rath even won the man of the match for his bowling effort. But come final, he snapped. He just couldn’t deliver the ball forget about having an off day. He looked anxious and shaken in his way to concede 36 runs in his only over. Sahan Adeesha had already limped off for an injury after delivering a ball in the match. Khadka had no choice but to give ball to someone who has not bowled at all in the tournament before. Anil Sah stepped up. He had been bowling well for U-19 Nepal team. Not only Anil Sah delivered three overs in the match, he literally delivered the match for Warriors. He bowled the all crucial last over of the match and defended nine runs to win the match for Warriors. He picked up two and total three wickets fell in that last over. A young batsman with ball in his hands exhibited tremendous amount of temperament and nerves of steel to deliver when his captain wanted and his team needed the most. He also had smashed 22 runs in the match.
Best for the last: Khadka vs Vesawkar
The combination of slow pitch, poor techniques, poor fielding, impatience and lack of match situation awareness was a perfect set of ingredients for a barrage of one-sided matches. And that happened throughout the tournament. At times, winning the toss was equivalent to winning the matches. But not in the final. It did take two of the Nepal cricket’s finest captains in Paras Khadka and Sharad Vesawkar to showcase a cliffhanger of a match. Sharad now has been in four premier league finals, won two and lost two (including the one today). Paras in two finals and has won both of them. Obviously, both Sharad losses came against Khadka. The match had everything, a decent t20 total, especially in the final, to the last ball finish. This, by far, was the match of the tournament. The pendulum kept swinging heavily on both sides. An unreal finish to the match as Warriors came back into the match from being dead and buried at one point to clinch the title.
Anshuman Rath and the hostile crowd
At the start of the tournament, Anshuman Rath said that he is in Nepal for the supporters, not money. Well, he got every bit of that in the final. More than 15000 fans were present in the record-breaking final. Anshuman Rath came to bowl the eight over of the match. For some reasons, he just couldn’t deliver, conceding 36 runs in the over with 4 no-balls that were given for pitching the ball, almost, just in front of his legs and away from the pitch. The four sixes that Sharad scored against him for, all reached making three to four bounces on the pitch or were lolly full tosses. This was farce, street cricket stuff when a player tries to learn bowling in the match. The crowd reacted angrily, for some reasons, throwing bottles and stones at the ground. The match had to be stopped for some minutes allowing Rath to recollect his thoughts. Poor Rath never bowled again in the match. He came to Nepal for fans, he will take one of the worst kind of memory with him. But he was back confident again, stopping a match-winning boundary for Warriors. And also, he shared selfies and autographs with the fans after the match.
Comedy of errors
5 runs were required off the last ball for Gladiators to get the historic win. Usually, you would see either a four to tie the match or a six to win the match, or just a single as the defending team completes the proceedings. In some case, we might see two runs too. But in this match, we saw batsmen taking three runs. If both the batsmen were clever enough to keep running, they could have even got a four such was the scenes during the final ball of the match. The comedy of errors followed after batsmen couldn’t time the last shot as well as he would have liked, both jogged their way to single. The fielders missed the ball. Another fielder picked up a striker end’s stump in his way to celeberation but the ball was not dead. The batsmen ran another. This time the fielder tried to run out the batsman but the bails were already off. That allowed batsmen to run three before Paras Khadka himself removed the stumps from the ground with ball in his hands. But batsmen were already inside the crease. The ball was finally dead. Anil Sah, the bowler, ran towards the dressing room for celebrations. The batsmen had already given up, the fielder started celebrating without controlling the ball and lack of knowledge about run-out rules made the finish comic in all intense final.