Shillong, Apr 6: Simsang Sharks won a phenomenal last round robin match of the Meghalaya Cricket Association’s Senior Men Challengers Cup today, edging table toppers Nokrek Tigers by just 4 runs here.
The Tigers had already qualified for the final yesterday while the Sharks were unable to progress. That could have meant that today’s game would be a facile one but the players had other ideas.
Simsang captain Akash K Choudhury unhesitatingly chose to bat after winning the toss, which meant that Nokrek, led by Sylvester Mylliempdah, would field first for the first time in the tournament. Simsang managed 150 all out before Nokrek fell at the last hurdle for 146.
The Tigers were in trouble almost from the beginning of the chase, reduced to 15/3 in 4.2 overs. All the while, at the other end, Krishna Thapa was holding the fort as his batting partners came and went; four of them went without troubling the scorers.
In the end, Nokrek were down to 66/7 and it looked as if they would be skittled for a record low score but Thapa finally found support in Ram Gurung (12) and they put on 44 together before the latter was out lbw. He was replaced by another tailender determined to resist in the form of Banphira Basaiawmoit, who was cheered by his team mates every time he survived a delivery or scored a run and he went on to make 16.
However, an exhausted and bruised Thapa finally fell for a heroic 62 (8x4s, 1x6s) and, after holding out against Choudhury (4/23) and the expert spin of Arbin Singh (1/25), Basaiawmoit fell to the gentle turn of Wallambok Nongkhlaw (1/1), who claimed the last wicket with just his third delivery. The other successful bowlers were Mark Ingty (2/33), Sanvert Kurkalang (1/17) and Shembhalang Pyngrope (1/22).
Earlier, the Sharks started watchfully, with Laxman Chettri (22) and Amiangshu Sen (21) carefully compiling runs before the latter edged one behind to the wicketkeeper. That opened the floodgates in terms of wickets and Simsang were reduced to 67/6 before Choudhury and Nick Dann steadied the ship.
The pair stemmed the tide in a 35-run stand for the seventh wicket and Choudhury continued on, batting sensibly and aggressively in equal measure in an innings of 57 (6x4s, 1x6s) that helped get his team to 150. Spin proved to be the most problematic for the Sharks, as off-spinner Sengpan CT Sangma (4/38) and left-arm orthodox Anish Charak (3/25) claimed the bulk of the wickets. Gurung (2/21) and Thapa (1/31) also had success with the ball with their medium-fast pace.
The final will now take place between Nokrek Tigers and Myntdu Lions on Saturday morning.
(Meghalaya Cricket Association photo. Akash K Choudhury of Simsang Sharks raises his bat after reaching his half-century)