KATHMANDU, April 26: Region No 6 Baitadi, which won the National U-16 Cricket Tournament last month, proved to be an emerging power in domestic cricket by clinching the Wai Wai U-19 National Cricket Tournament on Thursday.
Baitadi edged past Region No 2 Birgunj by four wickets in the final of the Wai Wai U-19 at the TU Cricket Ground, Kirtipur to claim the back-to-back title.
Birgunj won the toss and elected to bat but the decision proved fatal as Baitadi bowled it out for only 100 runs in 37.2 overs and successfully chased the target in 31.4 overs losing six wickets.
Birgunj had won all the three group-stage matches of the tournament as its openers Hasim Ansari and Bijay Ghalan had given them good start. Ansari and Ghalan had put up 97-run partnership against Region No 1 Biratnagar, 60-run partnership against Pokhara and 70-run partnership against Kathmandu in the group stage matches.
However, the duo failed against Baitadi and produced only 17-run stand for the first wicket. As Ansari lost his wicket in 2.4 overs scoring only 15 runs off 15 balls, Birgunj wickets started to fall on regular intervals.
Suraj Kurmi (30 runs off 67 balls) and Aakib Ansari (18 runs off 54 balls) displayed some sensible batting and tried to anchor Birgunj innings. However, they both lost the wicket as they tried to accelerate scoring.
Bikram Sob took the prize wicket of Hasim Ansari but Prem Tamang did the most damage to Birgunj taking three wickets. Santosh Bhatta, Yagya Man Kumal and Binod Lama claimed two wickets each to rattle Birgunj.
Chasing the low total, openers Surendra Chand and Prem Tamang gave a good start to Baitadi putting up a 59-run partnership. Hasim Ansari took the wicket of Tamang, who scored 18 runs off 57 balls, in 16.1 overs. Baitadi suffered a mini-collapse after losing the first wicket. Akib Ansari took the wicket of another opener Chand, who scored 38 runs off 44 balls, in 17.3 overs.
Akib took the wickets of Chandan Rawal (duck) and Bikram Sob (two runs) while Hasim caught and bowled Santosh Bhatta (eight runs). Baitadi was at 79/5 in 22.6 overs.
Saurav Chand anchored the Baitadi innings scoring 22 runs off 43 balls and putting up a 19-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Binod Lama (two runs off 20 balls). Lama was bowled by Hasim in the 30.4 overs when Baitadi was three runs away from victory.
All-rounder Prem Tamang was adjudged man-of-the-match for his three wickets and 15-run contribution in the 59-run opening stand with skipper Surendra Chand.
"We were confident about stopping Birgunj with low score since we had packed up defending champion Bhairahawa in 83 runs during the group stage match," said Dipendra Bahadur Chand, the coach of Baitadi. "We got the wickets of Birgunj´s top order easily and ultimately won the match. Hasim Ansari´s wicket was the turning point of the match," he added.
Baitadi captain Surendra Chand applauded his teammates for their all-round efforts.
"We were sharp in fielding and we packed them with a low score through our bowling," said Chand. "We lost five wickets while chasing but ultimately it was an easy victory as we have a long batting line-up," he added.
Birgunj coach Prakash Sharma lamented over the team´s decision to elect for batting after winning the toss. "We decided to bat first but it proved to be a wrong decision. On the other hand, our top order failed today (Thrusday)," said Sharma.
Winner Baitadi received Rs 25,000 while man-of-the-final Prem Tamang got Rs 5,000.
Meanwhile, Binod Lama of Baitadi was adjudged the best bowler of the tournament. Lama had taken 12 wickets in the three group stage matches.
Birgunj´s Hasim Ansari was adjudged the player-of-the-series and the best batsman of the tournament.
Ansari had scored altogether 176 runs in the four matches with an average of 44 and strike rate of 118.12 runs. He had also taken six wickets in four matches bowling altogether 39 overs. Ansari received Rs 15,000.
National Sports Council Member Secretary Yuvaraj Lama, tournament sponsor Wai Wai´s representative Lal Babu Prasad and CAN officials gave away the prizes to the winners.