Province One clinched the Nepal PM Cup Women’s National Cricket Tournament title beating the defending champions Armed Police Force (APF) by six runs in the final. In a close contest that went down the wire, hundreds of spectators turned out at the Lamahi Ground to watch the game and support women’s cricket.
After winning the toss and electing to bat first, Province One scored 105/4 runs in their allotted 20 overs. Opening the innings, Rubina Chhetri did not disappoint the crowd putting on 58 runs for the first wicket with opening partner Apsari Begam. ‘Rubina Haai Haai’, the crowd did not stop cheering her every run until she was stumped for 18 runs by Jyoti off Sita Rana Magar’s bowling. Two balls later, Sita accounted for Apsari Begam, who seemed in formidable touch on 34 runs off 44 ball with five boundaries. At this stage, Province One were 59-2 at 13 overs. In the seventeenth over, Sita Rana Magar trapped Roma Thapa (3) leg before wicket (LBW) bagging her third wicket. Later, Nisha Shah (5) was bowled by Karuna Bhandari. Kajal Shrestha’s unbeaten 29 off 26 with three boundaries took Province One across the hundred mark to their final score.
Chasing 106 runs, defending champions APF, who were unbeaten throughout the tournament, were restricted to 99/7 in 20 overs. Opener Rajamati Airee could not open her account, as Rubina bowled her for a duck in the second over. Continuing her spell, Rubina bowled Indu Barma (7), bagging her second wicket. Sarita Magar, who played an important role in the middle orders for the APF earlier in the tournament, fell LBW to Alisha Khadiya’s bowling for just six runs. As soon as she returned back to the pavilion, Jyoti Pandey, the tournament’s highest run scorer followed, also trapped LBW in the same over. Pandey scored 14 runs off 15 balls with two boundaries for the APF.
Wickets kept tumbling as Sonu Khadka was run out by Roma Thapa in the next over. At this stage, the APF were 32-5 in 6.5 overs. However, Mamata Chaudhary and Karuna Bhandari rescued APF. They partnered for an exceptional 66 runs-stand for the sixth wicket, taking the chase into to the last two overs. Sabnam Rai bowled exceptionally well for Province One in the penultimate over. She conceded just four runs without a single boundary. APF needed 13 runs to win off the last six balls.
Mamata Chaudhary stepped out and punched the first ball towards the deep extra cover for a quick-double. 11 off 5 balls. Chaudhary then hit the second ball to point, completing a quick single. In returning for the second, Mamata who added crucial 34 runs during the chase, was run out by Alisha Khadiya.
The equation was 10 off 4 when Sita Rana Magar joined the crease, she scored two runs off the next ball reducing the equation to 8 off 3 balls. Sangita Rai then bowled two excellent deliveries. Ball number 4 was a dot and ball number 5 saw Sita Rana Magar stumped. APF now needed 8 runs off the last ball, making it almost impossible for them to win the game.
Rubina Chhetri was awarded the Player of the Final award for her all-around performance of 18 runs and 2-14 while APF’s Jyoti Pandey and Karuna Bhandari were awarded the Best Batter and Bowler of the Tournament respectively. Jyoti Pandey scored 151 runs in her five innings for APF with an average of 37.75 while ace-spinner Karuna Bhandari took 13 wickets in 5 innings with an average of 4.46 and an economy rate of 3.02. Sangita Rai, who earlier bagged three Player of the Match trophies, received the prestigious Player of the Series award.
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