February 21, 2018 10:27 AM NPT
By: Rajan Shah
KATHMANDU, Feb 21: Ruslan Dhangadhi Premier League (DPL) is set to host first ever live auction on satellite television in Nepali cricket’s history on Wednesday. Six franchises will tussle to acquire the respective choice of players outbidding each other.
Going by the last Everest Premier League (EPL), the franchises are seeking young legs to invest on. Popular and successful names in Nepali cricket like Anil Mandal, Sanjam Regmi and Manjeet Shrestha went unsold few months ago.
Meanwhile, unknown and fresh players like Puran Bishwakarma, Samshad Sheikh and Bipin Khatri were given chance in the squad, albeit they did not make their debuts. The evolution is set to continue with the increasingly rigorous demands of T20 cricket and Nepal’s poor fitness culture among the available pool.
The success of young players like Aarif Sheikh and Rohit Kumar Paudel with the national setup will inspire franchises to look for further young names from less common areas of Nepal. The recently concluded Khukhuri Challengers Cup T20 Competition that ran for 24 days was a perfect event to start scavenging from. Baluwatar Cricket Club (BCC) won the tournament on Saturday to claim the title of the second edition of Khukhuri Cup. There were many players who made their mark in the tournament before the cash-rich DPL auctions. Four of those who stood out in the tournament were:
Rabindra Jung Shahi
A former member of Nepal’s ACC U-16 Premier winning national team in 2014 and U-19 team who played the Asia Cup in 2016, Rabindra Jung Shahi had a tournament to remember. The 20-year-old’s brother Janak Shahi was his first coach who taught him the bat & ball sports. After representing Nepal’s junior teams during his school days, Shahi came to Kathmandu focusing on cricket apart from his further studies. He sharpened his craft at the Nepal Cricket School (NCS) under coaches Binod Das, Kalam Ali, and Dipendra Chaudhary.
After finishing as the second highest run-scorer for Nepal in U-16 premier event and missing out on the U-19 World Cup and ACC teams, he finally made a mark by being at the top of the run-charts for Khukhuri T20 Cup. For a player of short demeanor, he racked up most runs ahead of established players like Prithu Baskota and Subash Khakurel. He made 258 runs in four innings, 11 runs more than second-placed Sonu Tamang, who played seven innings and was a part of the tournament winning BCC the title. Opening for a fragile batting side, he made three half-centuries in four opportunities. His team Tikapur Cricket Club (TCC) was not able to qualify for the knockouts, despite his heroic attempts carrying his side on his own. His highest individual score was 81, and he made his runs with the strike rate of 140 runs per 100 balls. The best part about his batting was taking minimum risks and playing the most shots along the ground. He only hit two sixes, but managed 29 boundaries in the four matches he played. There were five different century scorers in the Khukhuri Cup, but his consistency helped him top the league.
If success of Shankar Rana is to be observed in the EPL, someone like Shahi can add similar if not more value to whichever team he represents in the DPL with some international experience as well.
A chunk of credit should go to Basant Regmi and Shakti Gauchan for inspiring thousands of kids across Nepal all these years to take up left-arm spin to forge a career in cricket. Sagar Dhakal is another name in the list of ever increasing list of left-arm orthodox bowlers in Nepal.
The emerging-player-of-the-tournament Dhakal is in his teens, but finished second on the list of the most wicket-takers of the Khukhuri Cup. “He is a very hard-working cricketer,” said Sudeep Sharma, his coach at the Wai Wai Great Himalayan Cricket Academy (GHCA). “He used to single-handedly win matches for his team in Siphal ground for his local team. Then his friend, also an alumnus, brought him to join our academy. He was raw when his first came in. But there is potential in him. His performance in the Khukhuri Cup proves that.”
The 18-year-old Dhakal’s best bowling figures of four wickets for 10 runs came against a strong departmental team Tribhuvan Army Club (TAC). Similarly, he picked up 10 wickets in five games for Wai Wai GHCA. To top it all, his average of six runs per wicket and economy of three runs per over is the best in the tournament for players featuring in at least four games with an impressive record of 12 deliveries per wicket.
The young lad for future is already knocking on the doors of the franchise clubs to prove his worth.
Kshitiz is another name in the ever growing left-arm orthodox arsenal for Nepali cricket. The achievements of Shahab Alam and Lalit Rajbanshi are perfect examples of success for left-arm spin in Nepal. Emergence of new talents will come handy when the country needs, in due time, replacement of the aging duo of Shakti Gauchan and Basant Regmi.
The player-of-the-tournament Kshitiz delivered the first Khukhuri Cup trophy for his club BCC which he joined it in 2013. The 26-year-old’s first coach was Sunil Lama in 2006. He was first chosen by Sharad Vesawkar to represent the senior team of Whitehouse College in the Aaditya Memorial Cup. The player who idolizes New Zealand legend Daniel Vettori is equally inspired by Vesawkar in taking up cricket as a career. “Players like Sunam Gautam and Subash Khakurel helped me develop at the Baluwatar Cricket Club during my early days” said Kshitiz.
Kshitiz topped the bowling charts in the Khukhuri Cup on his way to securing the title for BCC. In a tournament which featured legends like Mehboob Alam and current U-19 fast bowler Kamal Singh Airee, Kshitiz scalped 12 wickets in the seven matches he played. He picked up a wicket every 14th delivery in the tournament with a miserly economy of less than five runs an over. This tournament should be an ice-breaker for another left-arm orthodox that can do a job for his franchise in slow and turning surfaces of the Nepali cricket grounds.
The lost name in Nepali cricket these days is probably the most familiar name among the four names mentioned here. Avinash Bohora is infamously popular for conceding five sixes in an over to Saurav Khanal in 2017’s Prime Minister Cup 50-over competition hosted by the Nepal Sports Council (NSC). However, leaving the incident aside, he has not done much harm for the teams he has represented in the EPL or the DPL. He represented CYC Attariya, who was knocked out in the group stage in the last DPL, but did not start a single game for Bhairahawa Gladiators in the last EPL. He did well for Attariya claiming a four-wicket haul against Kathmandu Goldens, but his stakes have fallen down since then.
A lost cause as perceived by many, Bohora had a scintillating comeback in the Khukhuri Cup. He is the highest wicket-taking pace bowler in the tournament held at the Mulpani and TU cricket grounds. Fondly respected as ‘Yorker Specialist’ among close peers and observers, Bohora picked 10 wickets in the Cup; second most behind Singh’s 12, in four matches.
He picked up a wicket every nine deliveries among players who had played at least four matches in the tournament. For a pace bowler, he never delivered a no-ball in his 15.4 overs he bowled for TAC in the Cup.
He has made his case stronger given the dearth of quality pace bowlers in the country. Bohora can be the player who can do the job with the new ball as well as the old.
Rules and regulations
1. Each franchise will have a purse of Rs 1.1 million.
2. A total of 12 players should be bought from the auctions:
- Category A: Minimum: 2 players, Maximum: 3 players
- Category B: Minimum: 5 players, Maximum: No limit
- Category C: Minimum: 3 players, Maximum: No limit
- Category D: Mandatory: 1 player NOTE: Category A includes the pre-announced Strategic Players
3. In case of more than one team reaching the maximum limit price for the player, the decision will be taken by a lucky draw.
- Category A: Base Price: Rs 75,000, Max Price: Rs 150,000
- Category B: Base Price: Rs 50,000, Max Price: Rs 100,000
- Category C: Base Price: Rs 25,000, Max Price: Rs 50,000
- Category D: Base Price: Rs 10,000, Max Price: Rs 25,000
4. One Strategic player, 12 players from the auctions and two foreign players will make the squad of 15 for the DPL franchises.
5. Foreign players are mandatory for a 15-man squad not necessarily should be featured in Playing XI.
6. If a captain is chosen from the auctioned players (not strategic player), the appointed player will receive further Rs 50,000 as captaincy allowance adding up to his purchased price.
7. In case of severe injury, domestic or foreign, the player will be replaced from the remaining list of unsold players at the base price. As well as, franchise can recruit another foreign player by bringing the matter to notice of the organizers.