Praveen and Varaiya overcome Gymkhana

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Mar 18, 2017
  • Hiren Varaiya and AG Praveen delivered the win against Nairobi Gymkhana. They face Swamibapa in the final. (SNA. File Photo)

An unbeaten seventh wicket stand between AG Praveen and Hiren Varaiya of Stray Lions delivered the maiden NPCA Twenty20 final with a four wicket win over Nairobi Gymkhana in a tense finish at Sikh Union on Saturday.

They will now play defending champions Swamibapa in the final at the same venue.

In a clash that went down to the wire, it was the match winning performance from the two middle order batsmen that saw Stray Lions secure a four wickets win after they had been reduced to 94 for 6 in chase of 126.

The dismissal of Manoj Sai in the 13th over with the board on 75 for 2 runs sparked a middle order collapse to reduce them to 94 for 6 with the dismissal of Abraham Vadada, Shem Ngoche and Collins Obuya in quick succession.

After winning the toss, Nairobi Gymkhana posted 126 for nine, boosted by a runs a ball 36 from Harsh and Abdul Najmi’s 29 from 23 balls.

But any assumptions that Nairobi Gymkhana were in a strong performance at 94 for 6 with 22 balls were dashed by Praveen and Varaiya who took on the bowlers.

The two went on to get the match away from the youthful Nairobi Gymkhana side with three boundaries which came off Peter Koech in the 18th over to reduce the target to 10 overs with two overs to go.

Lucas Oluoch bowling the second last over conceded only four runs.

Too much pressure

Bhavya Thakkar was tasked to bowl the last over but the pressure was too much for him conceding the required runs in two balls.

“We didn’t expect it to be this tense. We got ourselves in this position because of collapse that we didn’t expect. We are however happy we have prevailed and we should now shift our attention to the final,” Vadada said.

Nairobi Gymkhana skipper Karan Kaul blamed poor batting for the show. “I don’t think we lost the game on bowling. We lost it with the bat. We needed to score more than what we got. Had we scored at least 20 more runs we would have had a big chance,” Kaul said.

Vadada and Shyam Sundar gave Stray Lions a decent start with an opening stand of 31 in 6.2 overs before Vadada and Sai added on 44 runs in six overs.

After Sai was caught in the deep on 21, Vadada lasted only nine balls before he was also caught having scored 41 from 46 balls.

At 81 for 3, Stray Lions were still sailing comfortably towards the final but the dismissal of Ngoche, Obuya and Neil Narvekar in quick succession reduced them to 94 for 6.

Nairobi Gymkhana lost two quick wickets for 36 runs after 6.2 overs before Najmi and Harsh Patel lifted them to 63 after 9.4 overs in a third wicket stand of 27 runs.

Oluoch finished off the last overs to get them past 120 runs despite Obado running through the batting order with three wickets.