There definitely was enormous potential from the start but cricket has already become like a religion in Dhangadhi. There is little doubt that Dhangadhi Premier League has just added to the glorious history of cricket revolution that began from Dhangadhi. This place is now known as ‘the city of cricket’.
DPL has transcended sport to become an entertainment product offering glamour and glitz. Right now, Dhangadhi Premier League is single biggest event in Nepal, sporting or otherwise. If you want to see what all the fuss is about, I encourage you to tune in for final showdown on Saturday, April 22, 11 AM.
Cricket has now became second name of this city. You just need to peek or roam outside of your hotel room and you can see yellow (as is sponsored by Sagarmatha Cements) banners, hoardings, boards, placards, etc imprinted with Dhangadhi Premier League on it. And if that is still not enough, the phenomena called Paras Khadka has already got into this cricket-frenzy city. Even a momo-vendor still recognizes you just because you were there in Dhangadhi during the last big event of cricket: SPA Cup.
So, following the tradition of success stories after success stories from this part of Nepal, here are 5 (because can’t write a book) reasons why DPL is another huge success:
1. Decentralization of cricket
When I say cricket it is not just about cricket but a cash-rich-cricket-event with all the best possible facilities & hospitality for everyone involved. On pure basis of efforts from Dhangadhi Cricket Academy & Sudur Paschimanchal Academy DPL decentralised cricket from Kathmandu to Dhangadhi. It is not the first time that it happened (also Dhangadhi in past) but it definitely has been the biggest one yet. It is something even our government has struggled to manifest on other sectors, sports is still not their priority. Though Kathmandu did get its share of paparazzi when auctions were held in Yak and Yeti hotel. Rest all happened in Dhangadhi. And adding to the occasion I haven’t seen such coverage of cricket event by media outside Kathmandu valley from all the places I have been too.
2. Pitch wasn’t the only issue
I agree, pitch wasn’t the best thing going around but it should not be the only excuse. Its been decades and we still struggle to find few good batsmen in Nepal. We neither have batting pitches in Nepal. Anywhere in Nepal. Pitch, simply can’t be the only culprit here. If you see the highest total score of Kathmandu Goldens in group stage & Team Chauraha in second qualifier you might feel what was all fuss about. Kanchanpur Iconics, probabaly the most under-performed team of the DPL, won it’s game when they required to stay in the competition. Similarly, Chauraha hit the purple patch (and with terrific scoring rate) when they needed to progress in the competition. Biratnagar Kings reached finals, a team which was supposed to with the youngsters they had under the inspiring leadership of Sharad Vesawkar. Also, before first qualifier Vesawkar admitted with all honesty that batsmen could have applied more. The ground is small, you need few good hits to get a decent score here. To tell you the secret, two teams, Sharad’s Biratnagar Kings and Khadka’s Team Chauraha reached the finals which in fact speaks about the success of those captains and players who played proper positive cricket regardless of pitch and other factors.
3. Home team’s heroics
Chauraha were in dire situations. They were struggling to cope with the pitch, pressure, expectations and executions. They were, at one point, all but out of the tournament. Attaraiya, the other team from Dhangadhi, were first team to get out. Pressure was on. The team with the biggest home support. Not only Dhangadhi but ground itself was located at Chauraha. In comes Skipper, the inspiration, the last glimmer of hope, the captain, the leader, the legend, Paras Khadka onto the crease. Needed to win within 14.3 overs to qualify, they did it in 11. Chauraha supporters went berserk. The first city based Fan Army in Nepal were alive again. They not only qualified for eliminator by last equation possible they also won the eliminator against ‘Kathmandu’ Goldens, how bloody fitting is that for home die-hards. Supporters wanted Chauraha to do well in a tournament happening in front of their yard. Dhangadhi wanted Chauraha to do well. Paras fans wanted Chauraha to do well. This league needed Chauraha to do well to influx life into it. Now they are one step away from the trophy.
4. If not matches, the league has been close
Kanchanpur Iconics heavily loaded with big hitters like Binod Bhandari, Sagar Pun, Siddhant Lohani, Sonu Tamang & Sunil Dhamala were pre-tournament favourites. Rupandehi Challengers surpassed all expectations during the league round topping the group on back of their bowling performances from Shahab Alam & skipper Shakti Gauchan. Biratnagar Kings were the most consistent team of the tournament being thereabout in top half in group stage and eventually being the first team to reach finals. Team Chauraha were down and out at one stage but made a triumphant comeback. They reached finals when most of the experts and fans were already convinced for an early elimination. Momentum is on favor of Chauraha winning virtual final after final since the last group match to reach at this stage. But if we observe the nature of the DPL, Biratnagar has to believe they have real chance and ready for any challenge. It is sad that none of the matches went down to the wire but all the teams looked equally capable of wining the trophy. If nothing goes wrong we are in for a final match which has all the ingredients to be the match of the tournament.
5. Fitting final showdown
Paras Khadka versus Sharad Vesawkar. Team Chauraha versus Biratnagar Kings. You can’t find a better rivalry than Nepal’s best national captain versus Nepal franchise cricket’s best captain. Sharad Vesawkar is on a hattrick of domestic mega money trophies. He won Nepal Premier League back in 2014 at same city but different venue, Fapla. Then he won Everest Premier League held earlier this year. Biratnagar Kings went for most of the players from his EPL winning team in DPL players auction. They were successful to get hold of some of them, some went to other franchises. Thrice he has been able to motivate his players to reach finals, and won 2 of them. Meanwhile, it is needless to say the legacy of Paras Khadka. However, this is first time Khadka’s franchise team will play a final. We all know the great show put up by his team to reach the finals of popular domestic premier league. All credits to DPL that we are set to see, in a way, the greatest match in history of Nepali domestic cricket.