Nepali cricket takes giant stride with EPL kick off

- Adarsha Dhakal, Kathmandu

Dec 18, 2017-

Nepali cricket will take another professional step when the improvised form of Everest Premier League Twenty20 begins at the TU Stadium on Monday.

The tournament organised by a private Nepali firm will see international players rubbing shoulders with country’s domestic cricketers, the first time in the history of the game in Nepal. The development is an ointment to a wound inflicted to the game following suspension of country’s cricket governing body by the International Cricket Council on April 25, 2016.

Almost eight months after the suspension of Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) in the pretext of unfair election and government interference, the country witnessed first ever auction of cricketers at a national level for the Dhangadi Premier League (DPL). While the country’s cricket governing body remains suspended and is on the verge of expulsion, EPL has become a tournament that has been sanctioned by the ICC.

Sri Lankan bowling allrounder Farveez Maharoof, who will play for Kathmandu Kings XI is one of the big names joining the tournament that offers a cash 

purse of Rs 2.1 million--the highest cash ever given in domestic cricket history.

Maharoof last played against England at the Oval in a one day international match in 2016, suggesting Kings XI has roped in a cricketer whose talent is not in the wane. 

EPL Pvt Ltd, the tournament organisers, on Sunday unveiled the champions’ trophy and among those in the dignitaries were former Indian cricketer Arun Lal.

The voice of Indian cricket’s commentary Lal wanted to place the tournament above all the monetary values. “EPL is a start of something big which is very essential. IPL (Indian Premier League) has not only raised generation of cricketers, but also changed the face of sport in India,” said Lal. 

“If you have a 19-year old home grown talent who ends up bowling out Maharoof for a duck, it instils a huge amount of self belief. EPL is providing an environment where cricketing potential can prosper,” added Lal.

The city-based franchise event has preceded with the auction of cricketers where each of the six teams bought 10 players. The presence of international cricketers comes as compulsion for all the teams to involve at least three cricketers in their 15-man squad and one from talent hunt. Chitwan Tigers, Lalitpur Patriots, Pokhara Rhinos and Biratnagar Warriors have already unveiled their foreign recruits.

Bhairahawa Gladiators are the only team to announce their international players. National team middle order batsman Sharad Vesawkar, who leads the Gladiators, was excited with the build up to the tournament.  

“There are players coming in from other countries making it a tournament that we had never competed in. This has certainly lifted the level of Nepali cricket. The international players have the experience of playing in high level of cricket. Their presence also means an opportunity for us to learn a lot of things from them,” said the marquee player.

Malla’s Patriots take on Kings XI today

KATHMANDU: Sri Lankan cricketer Farveez Maharoof will be at the centre when he leads Kathmandu Kings XI against Gyanendra Malla’s Lalitpur Patriots in the inaugural day match of the Everest Premier League Twenty20 at the TU Stadium on Monday. 

Maharoof is the biggest name so far associated with EPL and will have a tough task to fare according to expectations in a squad that includes fellow Sri Lankan cricketer Akshu Fernando and Sagar Kumar of India. Fast bowler Sompal Kami, the marquee player in Kings XI, along with national team cricketers Sagar Pun, Naresh Budhayer, Jitendra Mukhiya, Raju Rijal, Sushil Kandel and Siddhant Lohani will be expected to give Patriots a run for their money. 

Maharoof wanted to start the tournament on a positive note. “The first match of the tournament is always going to be important for us. The playing conditions look pretty decent here. We have a good squad and hopefully we are going to make a winning start,” said Maharoof on the eve of the match. 

Patriots have signed former Delhi Daredevils all-rounder Yogesh Nagar in their squad along with other two Indian duo of Jaykishan Kolsawala and Subod Bhati. In a squad also filled with all-rounders in Mehboob Alam, Kushal Bhurtel, Sonu Tamang, Pawan Sarraf and Sandeep Jora along with Malla and leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane, Patriots look strong in paper. 

But Malla didn’t want to overrate his side. “I think they (Kings XI) have become even better by the inclusion of Maharoof because Kings XI are already a better side. We have a balanced squad and would like to play the best cricket to return with victory,” said Malla. (PR)

Published: 18-12-2017 08:59

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