Sports

Nepal realises dream: Mulpani Cricket Ground opens with first match

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Nov 12, 2017-More than 15 years after Nepal dreamed of having an international ground in Mulpani, the country finally witnessed the opening of the facility on Saturday with a Twenty20 clash between Member Secretary XI and Veterans XI.

International Cricket Council (ICC) had planned to build a Global Cricket Academy in Nepal in 2002 for which Mulpani was proposed. But due to safety reasons, the concept was shifted to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with Dubai currently having that facility. 

In 2006, the global governing body of cricket came up with another concept of establishing ACC Regional Cricket Academy but it couldn’t get materialised due tussle within Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN). 

Since 2009, Nepal government and Asian Cricket Council have injected millions of rupees but despite starting the project eight years ago, Mulpani remains as one of the longest construction projects Nepal. CAN found a new working committee in 2011 but Mulpani still saw snail-paced resumption of the project and another bout of dispute took toll on the project again.

The project further hit the snag after CAN was suspended in the pretext of unfair elections and government interference in April last year. But a group of national team cricketers and game’s other stake holders submitted a memo to then Youth and Sports Minister Daljit Sripali five months ago seeking a minimum budget to make the ground playable. 

Sripali had released a budget of over Rs 1.5 million that did help in making the ground playable. National cricket team is currently preparing at the Mulpani cricket grounds for their final round World Cricket League Championship matches against the UAE scheduled for December 6 and 8. 

“We can say that we have got an alternative to the TU grounds,” said national team skipper Paras Khadka ahead of Saturday’s exhibition game, although a lot of works are still left to be done to finalise the project. 

The only concrete building in Mulpani is the CAN office in the west side. Out of Rs 1.5 million, the Construction Committee formed after Sripali’s approval of budget, has done the levelling of the ground, construction of the pitch, fencing and other touch ups required in the northeast part which looks more suitable for a natural parapet similar to TU Stadium’s Chobhar end.  

Chhumbi Lama, the coordinator of the Construction Committee formed after Sripali handed over the budget, said the challenge was now to maintain and upgrade the facility. “At the current situation when there is no cricket governing body, the biggest question is how the facility is going to be maintained,” said Lama. 

“The ground immediately requires a good drainage system so that it can remain in shape. If we make a plan to lease it out temporarily for other cricketing activities and raise a good amount of capital through it, the ground can sustain in itself. We can deploy the ground staffs from TU Stadium and pay them for their work,” added Lama.

The projected area for the construction of Mulpani Cricket Academy initially covered an area of 365 ropanis but due to encroachment it has been downsized to 296 ropanis. It has another ground which is currently under construction and has already seen one parapet in the north constructed by the government. Due to encroachment, the overall construction of the parapet has been left incomplete. 

National Sports Council Member Secretary Keshav Kumar Bista believes that encroachment will not be an issue. “We have already had agreement with the locals who have encroached the land. Although they have not agreed with the compensation amount proposed by the government, they have given a nod to get settled in another land. The government is looking after this process and it will be solved,” said Bista.

“Regarding the maintenance of this ground (upper ground), I want to make it sure that NSC will take care of it. It will release the budget required to maintain the ground, lease it for other purposes and do further construction required to make the parapet,” informed the member secretary.

Published: 12-11-2017 10:17

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