Sports

Kohalpur cricket ground awaiting facelift after hosting gold medal match

- ADARSHA DHAKAL, Nepalgunj 

Apr 24, 2019-

The Kohalpur cricket ground has long been awaiting a facelift and the scheduling of men’s cricket gold medal match could not have come at a better time.

Now that the ground has got a due attention by holding the National Games matches, Nepal’s former national team captain LB Chhetri was expecting his hometown will get an international standard stadium in three years’ time. For the last two months, Chhetri has spent most of the time at the Kohalpur volunteering to make the ground playable national team. The ground has played host to franchise Twenty20 cricket and selection tournaments in recent times but it was the hosting the national players for first time ever.

Efforts from volunteers like Chhetri, the ground did manage to get a decent outfield but the pitch in a work in progress. A string of low scoring totals in an uneven surface was inevitable since a pitch normally required at least three months to get a good shape. Chhetri, however, was happy that the ground made a breakthrough. “This is a good start for us because we are hosting national players in a big sporting event. It has certainly established Kohalpur cricket ground as a proper cricketing venue. It will now certainly help push the locals, state and central governments to transform it into an international stadium,” said Chhetri.

Spread over four bighas and 18 kathhas of land just one kilometre away from East-West Highway, the cricket ground is awaiting concrete infrastructure. Since the time late former Prime Minister Sushil Koirala-led government started upgrading the ground and planned for an international stadium five years ago, a certain portion of sports development budget have been allocated for Kohalpur.

But the project was overlooked ever since congress was ousted from power. Lack of coordination between the local government and Mid Western Sports Development Committee (Province 5) resulted in the freezing of Rs 6 million allocated for the stadium. After the local government was set up, another Rs 6 million allocated in fiscal 2016 was used in building dam at the north side.

Last year, the government released Rs 10 million which was used in fencing and retaining wall. The local government also contributed setting up a changing room but it now needs upgradation. “It’s a perfect time for us to cash in on the enthusiasm generated by organising the National Games here,” an optimistic Chhetri said.

The Mid Western Sports Development Committee and National Sports Council have prepared a Detailed Project Report for an international stadium in Kohalpur for which it would require a budget of Rs 680 million. The plan is to make a proper playing pitch, gymnasium, swimming pool, changing room, media box and a parapet with a seating capacity of around 20,000.

NSC Member Secretary Keshav Kumar Bista and Youth and Sports Minister Jagat Bahadur Bishwakarma took stocks of the ground during the Games. The duo also gave assurance that Kohalpur would soon receive a budget for further development. But in absence of a cricket governing body, which is currently under international suspension, the stakeholders are undecided over who would lead the project.

“I think handing over the responsibility to the local government would be a perfect choice. The ground is getting this shape because people from all walks of life are coming together. The Kohalpur municipality itself is spending Rs 30 million for building dam to save this ground from potential inundation. Even if we don’t get a stadium with huge seating capacity, adding facilities like a proper pitch and dressing room would make give a better venue,” Chhetri added.

National team middle-order mainstay Sharad Vesawkar, who arrived here for the semi-final after his team completed the Group ‘A’ matches at the Siddhartha Stadium in Bhairahawa, was full of surprise to see a good ground. “We also watched the ground in Lamahi (the ground hosting women’s cricket) and I think Kohalpur has best outfield,” said Vesawkar.

“There is nothing in the venue in terms of concrete facility. But what matters is the ground which appears in good condition. Its not the isolate case as where ever we travel to play outside the Kathmandu Valley its the same problem. What counts is that the locals preserve the ground. I think this place requires a good pitch and soil for the outfield. I don’t know how this can be managed but if we use grounds across the country hosting home and away franchise leagues, we might help preserve them all,” added Vesawkar.

Published: 24-04-2019 07:57

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