Nepal Police wins 2024 PM Cup

Kathmandu, Feb. 4: Nepal Police Club was undoubtedly the best team in the PM Cup Men’s National Cricket Tournament 2024. The team made the statement echo louder by winning the tournament and lifting the trophy at the TU International Cricket Ground on Saturday.

Nepal Police Club defeated Tribhuwan Army Club by six wickets as it chased a paltry target of 182 with 73 balls remaining. It is the third tournament win for Police. 

Earlier, Police and Army were declared joint winners in the first season of the PM Cup in 2017. Police won the tournament for the second time to lift the trophy alone in 2019.

This year, Nepal Police and Army qualified for the finals of the tournament, which was played in a single round-robin format, as the top two teams in the league table after playing nine matches each. Nepal Police remained undefeated throughout the league stage while Army lost two matches, against Police and Bagmati Province.

Police had defeated Army by 13 runs on January 21 while defending a low target of 141. However, Army could not defend a better target in the finals against Police.

Having given to bat first, Army started losing wickets from the 5th over as Santosh Karki (6 off 8) departed leaving the team at 13/1. Opener Imran Sheikh was at the crease until the 25th over while five other wickets fell one after another. 

Bhim Sarki (5 off 8), Sandeep Rajali (0 off 5), captain Binod Bhandari (2 off 8), Kushal Malla (17 off 32) and Basir Ahamad (1 off 6) could not do enough in the middle-order. Scoring 28 off 66 balls, Imran departed with Army at 69/7.

While Police looked forward to restricting Army to less than 100 runs, Bibek Yadav said ‘no’. Facing 81 deliveries, Yadav added 63 runs for Army before getting run out in the final over. Sompal Kami also contributed with 39 off 58 as Army got bundled out at 181 runs.

Lalit Rajbanshi and captain Dipendra Singh Airee took three wickets each for Police while Sagar Dhakal, Karan KC and Kushal Bhurtel bagged one each.

Army still had hoped to clinch the trophy from the undefeated Police by defending the target with some of its experienced bowlers. Nevertheless, they could not. 

Sending dangerous Kushal Bhurtel (14 off 9) back to the pavilion in the final ball of his first over, Jitendra Mukhiya retired hurt after an injury to his leg. Opener Dilip Nath joined Bhurtel in the 4th over after departing at 7 off 12. 

In lack of an experienced bowler, Army’s Kushal Malla, Shahab Alam and Basir Ahamad bagged only one wicket each before Aarif Sheikh and Shankar Rana won the match for Police in the 38th over. Arjun Saud and Amit Shrestha also added 36 and 28 runs in the chase respectively. 

While Aarif played a supportive inning, Rana played an aggressive one. Rana stayed not out at 62 runs with a strike rate of 144.18 alongside Aarif (27 off 54). The duo partnered to take the team to the win from 98/4 in 24.2 overs. 

Airee and Karan KC did not have to enter the field. Rashid Khan, who has a century in the tournament this season, did not have to bat for Police as well.

Nevertheless, despite the tournament organised in the Prime Minister’s name, it did not get the honour of hosting the PM in any matches, including the finals, played across three different venues. The PM was also not sighted in any of the matches of the PM Women’s Cup held in December 2023.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat was seen arriving at the final match when Police had around 30 runs remaining to chase. Individual awards

Bagmati Province’s Surya Tamang was honoured as the best player of the tournament for taking 30 wickets in nine matches. He was also adjudged as the best bowler in the tournament.

Madhes Province’s Anil Sah was honoured as the best batsman and the highest scorer in the tournament. He made 386 runs in nine matches with a century and two half-centuries.

Bagmati’s opener Ashutosh Ghiraiya was declared as the emerging player for his two half-centuries and a century. He scored 382 runs, only four runs less than Anil, in nine matches 

of the tournament.

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