The match that was lost in first over
Pokhara Rhinos had just conceded 5 runs on the penalty. Anshuman Rath was ready to face the first ball of the Warriors chase. Rhinos had pace bowler like Taj Wali in their ranks. They chose Bikram Sob to open the bowling. Not saying that Sob is not capable of delivering the first over of the match but he is no match to intensity Taj Wali could have brought in that first over. What happened next, literally, nailed the match for Warriors. Rath smacked a six in the fourth and followed up with a four in last delivery of the Sob over. Warriors were 16 runs up in the first over. They never looked back. Sob didn’t bowl another over in the match. Anything can happen in cricket but one needs to have that intent to make things happen.
First batting in the morning
Nepal’s finest Paras Khadka and Basant Regmi took the biggest scalps of Pakistani first-class cricketers Israrullah and Asif Ali as Biratnagar won the match against the Rhinos by seven wickets with relative ease. Both dismissals were LBW and clean-bowled respectively. Khadka later went on to pick Binod Bhandari and Shakti Gauchan too. Anil Kumar Sah made a forward dive to hold on to a great catch off Binod’s attempted slog shot. This is just a few examples how if you can put the ball in right areas can help you in TU ground’s pitch especially in the morning where we saw two teams struggle to bat first. Yesterday it was Chitwan Tigers and today Pokhara Rhinos. Teams will not relish batting first in the morning.
Aasif Sheikh’s wicket-keeping
Aasif Sheikh pulled off one of the highlights of the tournament when he completed a stumping to dismiss Sunil Dhamala off Avinash Karn. Sitting up to a pace bowler is never easy but finding that time to collect the ball and castle the stumps to dismiss the batsman who left the crease to heave. Aasif was fairly criticized yesterday for struggling to keep against Sahan Adeesha. Not today. He is a good wicket-keeper and he displayed that today in that moment of brilliance.
The ever consistent Amit Shrestha
Concerns are there for his strike rate or conversion rate but here is a certain bloke named Amit Shrestha who never fails to make runs no matter which tournament or stage. He might be more suited to 50 overs cricket. His hand-eye coordination is the best in the country. Even in the ongoing tournament, he has scored 27 and 29 runs in two innings so far. However, his problems with fitness have kept him away from national camp despite the fact that he hardly misses any domestic matches or tournament. And in sports, match fitness is one of the absolute fundamentals for a player which Amit does it quite consistently. He has to be the most insanely consistent domestic cricketer today.
Pitch is not perfect
When Israrullah, after hitting six sixes and an unbeaten fifty in the first match, said pitch is on the slow side and he would have loved it to be 140+, it was more than clear that teams will struggle to make scores more than 140 in this tournament which is set to be another low point for a marquee T20 event. In both matches today, there were plenty of batsmen like Hayat, Rath, Paras, Israr, Asif, etc who can make big scores but it wasn’t to be. Part-time spinners like Sunil Dhamal and Hari Shankar Shah were unplayable at times. Hari Shankar even delivered opening spell of the Kathmandu innings and conceded only 6 runs in his 3 overs. Similarly, Sharad Vesawkar followed with an accurate 4 over spell with 2 wickets using all his experience and skills. The pitch is set to be on the slower side despite the curators who were brought from India to make it a batting one. The pitch has got slower than it was on the first day. We are in for another low-scoring tournament.
Maharoof and the cluelessness in captaincy
In the first match, he gave a couple of overs to Sidhhant Lohani’s leg spin who himself considers to be a part-time bowler and don’t take it much seriously. Today, against Bhairahawa Gladiators, Kathmandu Kings XI succumbed to 118 in 20 overs for the loss of eight wickets without Sompal coming into bat. Even Bikram Bhusal came into bat ahead of him. Again in today’s match, he was bowling Akshu Fernando over Sagar Pun. Akshu bowled all six balls just short of a good length; an ideal length for batsmen to collect 12 runs from his only over of the match. While he preferred young and inexperienced Bikram Bhusal over Sagar Pun, the ever efficient off-spinner kept sweeping boundaries dispatched to the boundary by batsmen Sharad Vesawkar and Puneet Bisht who might have found bowling too easy for their likening. Skipper Farveez Maharoof needs to revisit his strategies if Kings XI has any chance of coming back in the tournament after twice losing the matches by some margins.