KATHMANDU, Dec 13: The highest scorer of the Everest Premier League (EPL) so far, Gaurav Tomar took his tally of total runs to 196 in four matches with a dazzling show of unbeaten 80 runs from 35 deliveries, which included nine boundaries and five sixes, in Lalitpur Patriots’ 10-wicket battering of Kathmandu Kings XI in the ninth match of the league at TU Cricket Ground in Kirtipur on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old batsman shared an unbeaten partnership of 115 runs with Jaikishan Kolsawala who played a supporting role with his 27 runs from 28 deliveries which included four boundaries. The pair followed their opening record of 129 runs in the last match against Chitwan Tigers.
Patriots limited Kings XI to 109 runs bowling first and completed the chase in 10.3 overs to qualify for the playoffs. Patriots have six points after first four games defeating Kings XI, Tigers and Pokhara Rhinos in the league.
None of the Kings XI bowlers were able to pick a wicket. Former Kings Xi Punjab bowler Pradeep Sahu, Irish superstar Kevin O’Brien and Nepal’s T20 world cup hero Jitendra Mukhiya went wicket-less in their respective two, one and three overs of the innings.
This is the first loss of Kings XI in the league, who had defeated Chitwan Tigers in its opening match on Monday.
Earlier, Kings Xi won the toss and stand-in captain O’Brien elected to bat first in the absence of regular captain Sompal Kami. The Nepali premium fast bowler had twisted his ankle bowling in the opening match of the EPL. He was replaced by Siddhant Lohani. Similarly, Amar Singh Routela was also dropped for Talent Hunt winner Chandra Kant Poudel. Young bowler Pawan Sarraf spun his web as he dismissed all three foreign contingents including the hero of last match Subramanium Aanand. The player of the match of last game Aanand was caught by Sunny Patel off Sarraf’s off-spin.
Likewise, Sahu was caught excellently by wicket-keeper Kolsawala off a quicker delivery bowled by Sarraf. But the biggest wicket came in the form of O’Brien caught at long-off boundary by Tomar. The Irish allrounder was looking in good touch for his 42 runs from 33 deliveries which included three boundaries and two sixes. He smashed Lalit Rajbanshi for 17 runs in his first over before the left-arm spinner made a triumphant comeback in the match conceding only five runs from his remaining three overs.
Sagar Pun, Naresh Budhayer and Pradeep Sahu were dismissed for golden ducks whereas Amit Shrestha and Raju Rijal could only make six and eight runs in the match.
Kings XI will face Pokhara Rhinos on Friday whereas Patriots will tussle with Bhairahawa Gladiators on Sunday for the top two finishes.
Biratnagar Warriors was pushed to the limits by Pokhara Rhinos in the last match holding off the defending champions for a tie defending a paltry total of 84 runs before losing the match in the super-over before Bhairahawa Gladiators finally defeated the unbeaten franchise of the EPL in the first match of the fifth day at TU Cricket Ground in Kirtipur on Wednesday.
Warriors was dismissed for 91 runs before Gladiators chased down the target in the last over by four wickets, winning its third match in a row. Since the EPL’s culmination as city-based franchise, Warriors had won the second season of the league being unbeaten throughout the tournament whereas it won the first two matches of the current season against Lalitpur Patriots and Rhinos.
The return of Mohammad Naveed in the Gladiators playing XI laid the foundation for a famous four wickets win and propelled the first runner-up of last season to playoffs of this season. Player-of-the-match Naveed picked up four wickets conceding 14 runs from his quota of four overs as Gladiators elected to bowl first. The United Arab Emirates bowler dismissed Anil Kumar Sah for four runs, Aasif Sheikh for a duck, Basant Regmi for five runs, and Robeen Chhetri for no runs to make sure Warriors was folded out for 91 runs.
Nepali pace bowlers Krishna Karki and Avinash Bohora shared two wickets each to support Naveed bundle out Warriors. The Dutch allrounder Ryan ten Doeschate and skipper Sharad Vesawkar chipped with a wicket each. Roelof van der Merwe top-scored for Warriors with 25 runs including two boundaries and the hero of last two matches Karan KC made 18 runs before handing an easy catch to Bohora off Vesawkar’s off-spin.
Gladiators has already qualified for the playoffs and now faces Patriots in the battle of top-two in the league table on Sunday, whereas Warriors will take on Chitwan Tigers on Friday in a bid to qualify for the next round at the expense of the opponent that has lost three in a row.