Namaste Pokhara Premier League

Unbeatable Rhinos clinch PPL title

Published On: December 29, 2019 12:01 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

POKHARA, Dec 29: Unbeatable Chitwan Rhinos, the runner-up of the last inaugural season, have been crowned as the champion of the second edition of the Namaste Pokhara Premier League (PPL) defeating Biratnagar Titans by 32 runs to lift the trophy in Pokhara on Saturday. 

In the final match played at the Pokhara Stadium’s cricket ground, Rhinos clinched the title in the second attempt after failing in the previous edition against Pokhara Paltan. Rhinos won six matches in a row to win the trophy.

Following a humongous total of 203 runs in the final match, Titans were limited for 170 runs for the loss of seven wickets in 20 overs. Indian bowler Sunny Patel clean-bowled Sunil Dhamala in the first ball of the second over to start Rhinos defense whilst Lokesh Bam left the crease shortly following a stunning catch from former Hong Kong batsman Babar Hayat off Karan KC at deep.

Titans’ Pakistani batting pair of Mohammad Zaid Alam and Noman Khan shared a partnership of 53 runs for the third wicket. Noman contributed 18 runs which included two boundaries before getting run-out to abruptly end the partnership.

Zaid again shared 41 runs partnership with skipper Pradeep Airee in route to complete his half-century. He scored 57 from 48 balls with five fours and three sixes before handing a catch to Bhuwan Karki off Rohan Mustafa to end Titans’ grit.

In-form Indian all-rounder Puneet Mehra along with Airee kept Titans in race sharing a quick-fire 47 runs partnership for the fifth wicket. Titans’ last glimmer of hope ended with Mehra’s wicket in the 18th over. 

Mehra hammered 32 from 13 smashing three sixes and a couple of boundaries. League’s most successful bowler KC dismissed Dilip Nath and Airee in the same over to confirm Chitwan’s victory. Airee scored 36 runs from 25 balls. KC picked up three wickets whereas Sunny Patel grabbed two. Mustafa chipped in with a wicket.

Earlier, Titans won the toss and elected to bowl first. Invited to bat first, unbeaten Rhinos set a total of 202/5. Paras Khadka and Rohan Mustafa started briskly adding 36 runs for the first wicket. Skipper Khadka hammered 22 runs against Jitendra Mukhiya in the third over with four fours and a maximum. Kishore Mahato yielded a first breakthrough for Titans dismissing Paras Khadka for 25 runs. Khadka found lanky Noman Khan at deep square leg. Zaid Alam swiftly got rid of Babar Hayat in the next over when he knocked over Hong Kong star for five. Rhinos collected 55 runs from the power-play losing two wickets.

Mustafa and Anil Sah then shared a match-winning 95 runs for the third wicket. Sah and Mustafa both scored a half-century each. Sah took 33 balls to mark his return in form while Mustafa dropped in a sheer anchor role bringing up his milestone in 42 balls. 

Mehra sent back both Sah and Mustafa for 50 runs each in the same 16th over. Sah had smashed three fours and sixes each whereas Mustafa scored three fours and a maximum.

Aarif Sheikh continued his merry form assisting 19 runs for his side before finding Mukhiya off Zaid Alam at long-on. Sunny Patel crunched his way to 16 runs from eight balls whereas Karan smashed unbeaten 26 runs off eight to post 202 in 20 overs for the loss of five wickets. Rhinos in its trademark way added 51 from last 3 overs.

Zaid Alam and Mehra grabbed two wickets each for Biratnagar while Mahato pocketed a wicket. Mustafa received the player-of-the-final and series awards whereas Karan KC and Kathmandu Golden Warriors captain Gyanendra Malla won the best bowler and the best batsman awards, respectively.  Titans’ young Lokesh Bam won the Most Valuable Player award, while Expert Dhangadhi Blues youngster Anil Kharel won the Emerging Player award.

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