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Rivals Stray Lions, Swamibapa to meet in epic NPCA T20 final

Tuesday, March 5th, 2024 03:50 | By
SCLPS A player Niraj Patel in action recently. PD/ PHILLIP KAMAKYA

Stray Lions and defending champions Swamibapa will clash in the final of this year’s Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) Twenty20 Super Division following brilliant displays in the weekend’s qualifiers.

The Tanzeel Sheikh-led Lions cruised through to the final following a 7-run advantage over Shree Cutchi Leva Patel Samaj (SCLPS YL A) at Nairobi Gymkhana grounds on Saturday.

Swamibapa, on the other hand, stunned Kanbis A by 24 runs in the Eliminator on Saturday before decimating SCLPS YL A by 59 runs in Sunday’s Qualifier 2 to book a ticket to the finals.

Swamibapa A had a false start to the T20 season losing a match in the initial stage.

But the Rushabh Patel led outfit rediscovered the form that saw them demolish Sikh Union to lift this coveted T20 title last year at Cutchi Leva ground in Nairobi West.

The Swamis also struggled through the 50 Overs League season in which they failed to produce their signature resilience on the crease.

Swami’s skipper Rushabh commented after booking back-to-back final tickets: “Yes, we did have a poor run of form in the initial part of the season, however, we’ve played very good and hard cricket after that to bring ourselves back into the tournament and hopefully progress to the finals.”

Rishabh continued: “In terms of Saturday’s win against Kanbis, I think the entire team really worked well together in all aspects which allowed us to have the edge over Kanbis again. So very pleased to see this attacking brand of cricket and looking to have the boys continue that till the end of the tournament.”

In QF1, Stray Lions opener Irfan Karim scored 27 runs to set the mood for his team against hard fighting Cutchi Leva.Aman Gandhi, Bhagath Varma, Francis Mutua and Gerald Mwendwa made valuable contributions for the victors scoring 19, 12, 18 and 16 runs respectively.

The match played at Gymkhana saw Stray Lions win the toss and opting to bat first.

But Stray Lions were bowled out for 118 in 19.4 overs.

In reply, the much-revamped Cutchi Leva outfit could only manage 111 for 8 in 20.0 overs, hence the loss.

The Kenyan version of T20 is being played in a format similar to the Indian Premier League (IPL) where the winner on Qualifier 1 (top two teams in the league segment) moves on to the Final while the loser gets a second chance in Qualifier 2 against the winner of the eliminator.

Sides who finished third and fourth compete with one another in an Eliminator match, with the winner going on to meet the loser of Qualifier 1 in Qualifier 2, while the loser is knocked out from the competition.

T20 (the shorter version of the game) is usually a very exciting part of the NPCA schedule as it sets the mood for the season’s longer version (50 Overs League).

In the Eliminator, Swamibapa savored an impressive scalp against arch- rivals Kanbis. Swamibapa produced another brilliant display of batting and bowling in QF2 to book their place in the finals on Sunday against Stray Lions. Put in to bat first, Swamibapa A put on

141/8 in 20 overs with Dhwanil Patel top scoring with a fine half century (55 runs off 41 deliveries). In reply, SCLPS lost wickets at regular intervals and never got going to be bowled out for 82 runs in 15.3 overs. The spin trio of Vraj Patel, James Ngoche and Yash Talati each picked 3 wickets respectively to ensure a comfortable victory for their team.

A clash between Kanbis and Swamibapa has always produced fireworks.

Meanwhile, Stray Lions are predicting great moments ahead after sailing through to the final.

Team chairman Thota Sreenivas said: “it’s a great feeling to see the team doing well and reaching the finals. Particularly with the young team they are fighting till the last ball and winning the games not giving up. This is the first tournament for Tanzeel Sheikh as captain with Stray Lions and together with the team, they’re doing very well.”

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