You are a Nepali cricket fan. A dire of a situation in itself. All you ever want (pray, wish & hope) is to see your team/players play the game as much as possible. Excel in it to provide that little happiness and ecstasy in otherwise a country depressed in politics, pollution and poverty.
Thanks to Everest Premier League, amidst the bleak future of cricket in Nepal, it is our only hope of glory from all those relentless problems. Credit goes to Aamir Akhtar for hanging there, not giving up, patiently waiting, finding ways, fighting system, surviving earthquakes for years to dream and make it a reality today. Yes off course, the plans were so many but in a country where even cricket (which has provided no harm to anybody: how it can for being recreational sports) is a tool for politics, just being able to host a tournament of that stature is simply inspiring. Cricket is on the verge of death in this country, EPL has come as a savior.
We should be happy. For ourselves, for our players, for Nepal as a country, for our cricket, for associates world, and so on.
Let’s talk about EPL for next two weeks. Just EPL. Make it a huge success. It is your EPL. It is our EPL. EPL can define Nepal tomorrow growing exponentially as the hub for associate nations and players. The onus is on us to make it a grand success. And we will.
Burning Questions regarding EPL
1. Quality of TV Commentary: Now that we know all the matches will go live on Kantipur Gold, it will be interesting to see who are going to be the commentators. Will it be in English or Nepali or tandem with half an hour (or one hour) slots given to each of them? To be honest, barring one or two guys in Nepali, commentary in Nepal has been all but shambles. With the help of internet there are chances EPL will be observed by other (associate) nations too.
It is our utmost (KMG’s specifically) responsibility to do justice with it and approach it as professional job than just putting random guys (which happens almost every time) to fill the role. Those guys wouldn’t even know how to pin point specific fielding positions. The quality of cricket is still in 90s regarding our cricket starting with commentary. Need to address that by KMG and EPL management. It matters.
2. Quality of Pitch: Most of times the gulf between the talents of players is going to decide the outcome of the match but there will be instances the quality of pitch will play its role. Are we going to get old TU pitches where everything stuck, ball doesn’t come onto the bat and turns sharply. Hopefully, it won’t be. For a concept of T20
match to click, it needs sleeping beauties. Big hits in batting tracks will only help bring crowds to the ground. And also, it will help our batsmen to gain some much needed confidence to play their shots from the start even for the ones who will be selected in national team. A good solid 400 runs match will be just the impetus EPL requires to be the entertainment we all expect it to be. We need flat tracks. It is as simple as that.
3. Player performances: In truth, there isn’t any breathing space to constructively criticize any Nepali players participating in EPL. For obvious reasons, players (especially local) hardly had any competitive cricket to back their selection on the basis of form or fitness. That might cause some inconsistent performances during the matches. The EPL teams will need to cope with surprising drop or rise in performance level of few players. It will be interesting to see captains and coaches dealing with the huge responsibility of finding that best eleven.
Players itching to prove points
1. Siddhant Lohani (Colors X-Factors): Who else than Sixer Sid for the first name in this list? The owner of ‘Nepal-made helicopter-shot’ is the most adventurous player Nepal saw in last few years (Given Paras Khadka is Paras Khadka and Binod Bhandari got lost in recent times). In domestics and that innings against Jersey (amidst the free fall of Nepali performance on that tour) which made it to ICC’s Youtube collection established Sid as one of Nepal’s darling favourite. There is no domestic tournament in Nepal that Lohani hasn’t set the crowd on fire and Everest Premier League will be no different. Representing Colors X-Factors, under and only other recognized star player Gyanendra Malla, he is set to be the go to man with his more than effective spin bowling also to aid for the cause. He knows everyone knows a good tournament will bring him straight back to reckoning and this time there will be no stopping.
2. Susan Bhari (Vishal Warriors): Now a less popular name but a familiar one. Susan Bhari has progressed silently when it comes to Nepali Cricket. Shakti Gauchan’s protege has always performed well for the sides he has been in. He was a go to man for his skipper Bhuvan Karki during his U19 stint. He has already made it to the National team and has impressed captain Paras Khadka a plenty. Last time, he was seen bowling against England national cricket team against Jason Roy and Jason Buttler (arranged by his English club Flymouth’s Coach Sean Hooper). Gauchan is only nearing his retirement, Regmi has his issues with fitness and Sandeep is the only spinner in current ranks ahead of him. He can’t find a better time to prove his worth than performing in EPL and claim his stakes once and for all.
3. Aarif Sheikh (Panchakanya Tez): He was termed ‘The Sheikh of Nepali Batting’ during his effortless batting display in U19 World Cup. It is not always about the numbers but the way you play your shots too. A cool customer, an innings builder and classical stroke-maker makes Aarif Shiekh a hot prospect (that he has not given enough opportunities to cement his place) for Nepal cricket team. He has temperament and talent to succeed in international arena proven by the fact that he was given an early incomplete run with national team before. EPL is an opportunity to reclaim his spot in the senior team. There is couple of back drops about his batting which need to be addressed in this tournament to develop as a cricketer. One is his inability to clear the stands, which is one of the primary requirements in current era of cricket, and two, his obnoxious habit of throwing the solid looking starts. The best part about him is his ability to bowl more than handy seam ups. He can be a successor to Paras Khadka if groomed well.
4.Prithu Baskota (Panchakanya Tez): A Nepali cricket star on his own rights. For good or bad (not controversial) reasons but he is one of the most recognized cricketers in Nepal today despite being out of the team for quite some time. Not long ago he was dubbed (and deservedly) as the future of our cricket along with Sagar Pun and Subash Khakurel but bad form and injuries marred his progress into oblivion. Still, he exhibits impeccable timing while playing a shot, easily one of the best fielders and knows how to pick wickets when required. Short in stature and physique, his sixes travels longer than Bhandari’s ever had. The ‘Fallen Little Master’ is another very intriguing story to be unfolded in EPL this season. Can he reclaim his past form, his impeccable timing, his handy off spin bowling and athleticism in field? We wait.
5. Saurav Khanal (Jagadamba Rhinos): Remember him? He missed the U19 world cup due to injury along with all the hype and rhythm surrounding him. He bats down the order. He can smack long balls. He led his team to SPA Cup title. He bowls at good pace. He can open the bowling and also come back for death overs. He ticks every box to be a successful T20 player. Adding with his leadership skills, this guy can be an asset to any team he plays for. With gates still open for that no.7 role and Nepal still searching a pacer to partner Sompal Kami, Saurav Khanal can be the answer. A MVP to any team he represents, a good season of EPL will help Saurav Khanal leap forward all the above candidates for his obvious talents that will help him to be the utility player for national team.
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly of the Week;
It’s your lucky day, I am going to do the GBU of each Everest Premier League squads:
Before you begin, click here to see the full squads: EPLT20 full squads
–The Paras Khadka.
-Also Sagar Pun, Raju Rijal, Susan Bhari & Irshad Ahmed gives Warriors proven and effective players in each position they can rely upon.
-They easily have the best captain and number one wicket-keeper in Nepal today.
– But that’s that.
-They come to Paresh Lohani, Deepesh Khatri, Manjeet Shrestha, Ramnaresh Giri and Yagyaman Kumal as second set of players.
-Fitness and form is going to be a concern.
– This same squad finished last in previously played one-day edition of EPL known as Nepal Premier League.
-Full of hungry to prove players like Gyanendra Malla, Sanjam Regmi, Fazlur Rehman, Siddhant Lohani, Avinash Karn, Rajesh Pulami, Nandan Yadav and Yogendra Karki.
-They make for a compelling squad that can do wonders if they hit a right note.
– Unproven players can always take time to settle in.
-The time that will be used to construct a productive XI might hamper their campaign.
–No star players or proven match winners except Gyanendra Malla, and at some extent Siddhant Lohani.
-The addition of veteran spinner Sanjam Regmi sounds like a desperate call.
–Probably, the best mix of experienced, national, regional and U19 players.
– A very settled squad with the likes of Shakti Gauchan, Mahesh Chhetri, Prem Tamang, Sompal Kami, Saurav Khanal, etc.
-Rhinos are my pick to lift the trophy under ever inspirational Shakti Gauchan.
-And they have a great name too, Rhinos.
-They even have regional stars like Amit Shrestha, Shubendu Pandey and Hasim Ansari to do the fireworks at the top.
– Can’t be.
-They are a balanced team by all means.
-Gauchan (also captain) and Tamang for spin, Kami, Khanal & Halwai for pace, Mahesh as keeper, all bases covered.
-Just like their name, a Tez team.
-This squad has already won a trophy (NPL).
-For me, it is going to be the tussle between Tez and Rhinos for the final accolade.
-Bhuvan Karki, Prithu Baskota, Jitendra Mukhiya, Karan KC, etc all either struggling with form or fitness.
-And it already has been 2 years since they won the trophy.
-Not a very athletic team. T20 cricket demands it.
-They also lack a good wicket-keeper.
-Basant Regmi. The best bowler in Nepal’s history.
-Plenty of match winners like Basant Regmi, Subash Khakurel, Pradeep Airee, Aakash Bista, etc.
-Return of Krishna Karki will also be a boost.
– Team lacks a dependable core or young or regional players.
-It will take them time to find that perfect playing XI.
– To be blatantly honest, question marks on either form or fitness of almost every player.
-Team of ‘Horses for Courses’.
– Binod Bhandari is a beast in home matches. He will be at his devastating best.
-Good influx of young players.
-Need a proper channeling to mix it up.
-Can a senior pack of Bhandari, Mehboob Alam and Anil Mandal do that will be interesting to observe.
-Relies heavily on Captain to provide fireworks and be that match winner.
Tweet of the Week:
A good old cricket lad Sameer Niraula is. I leave rest for your imaginations.