Inter-provincial PM Cup: An opportunity amid adversity

Published On: May 27, 2018 10:07 AM NPT By: Rajan Shah

KATHMANDU, May 27: Saurav Khanal went into the cricketing stratosphere of Nepal last year when the inaugural edition of the Prime Minister (PM) Cup was held in Kathmandu. Khanal was in blistering form to take his side Western Development Region to the semifinals almost single-handedly. He was on top of the runs table along with best strike rate and average runs per game with a daylight separating him from other batsmen in the tournament. 

Khanal made a nationwide sensation hitting pace bowler Avinash Bohora for five consecutive sixes in an over. The right-handed batsman’s fairytale did not last long as he failed to make it to the national team after having a poor closed-camp in the following national team selections.

Similarly, Central Development Region’s Haseem Ansari hammered a coming off age century against Armed Police Force 101 runs off 124 balls including 12 boundaries and a six in a losing cause. His fate too ended same as Khanal in the closed camp.

The first edition of the PM Cup threw couple of interesting batting options amid the dearth of quality batting for the national team. The rise of youngsters like Rohit Kumar Paudel and Aarif Sheikh has helped address some of that issue in recent times. However, a slightly busier cricket season is looming for the national team and having a pool of players back home will certainly help moving forward.

The big cash prize, live broadcast, 10-team tournament, Inter-provincial PM Cup is set to start on Sunday with a double-header scheduled for both Kirtipur and Mulpani cricket grounds. While the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) remains suspended, Nepal Sports Council (NSC) has taken a plausible initiation to host a much-needed 50-over tournament after a gap of two years. 

A tournament cramped in the busy T20 calendar around different Nepali cities, PM cup is an ideal and arguably the best opportunity to claim a spot in the closed camp in senior team for new and upcoming players.  With seemingly no proper cricket tournaments in Nepal and the CAN continuously remaining idle despite the national team securing the hard-earned ODI status after decades of toil and hard work, PM Cup has to be a good platform for emerging and seasoned players alike.

“The national cricket team has given the country a lot to cheer after earning the ODI status. We believe that this tournament will at least give a good amount of exposure to our cricketers in the absence of domestic cricket,” said NSC Member Secretary Keshav Bista. The future of PM Cup hinges in doubts as well with the NSC ready to allow the CAN to takeover all cricket activities once they are revived by the ICC. “Once the CAN suspension is lifted, we will allow the cricket governing body itself to organize the event,” added Bista.

For someone like Anil Mandal (Tribhuvan Army Club), who is overlooked in glitters of the cash-rich Everest and Dhangadhi Premier Leagues (EPL and DPL), the one-day version is much suited format for the two-time international centurion. Nepal does not have profound statistics to boast in the domestic scene, but in any one-day tournament, one can easily find Mandal’s name on the top of the run-getters chart.

Similarly, for someone as young as Rabindra Jung Shahi (captain, Province 6), who was a part of the DPL champions setup (Team Chauraha Dhangadhi), has been racking up runs in any cricket tournament he has been part of in last year or so. The PM Cup is an ideal platform for the youngsters like him to make their case on back of a successful tournament watched by rejuvenated Nepali cricket fan base and observers on television.

The absence of star presence like Paras Khadka, Gyanendra Malla, Sharad Vesawkar and Sandeep Lamichhane however is sure to be felt but it is an opportunity for other young players to step up for the tournament. 

Province 1
Pushpa Thapa (C), Meenash Thapa, Firdosh Ansari, Rajan Magar, Luv Kamat, Niraj Thakur, Suraj Shrestha, Anil Singh, Sarwan Yadav, Ravi Roy, Ankit Subedi, Samir Karki, Manoj Tamang, Sunny Pun

Province 2
Mehboob Alam (C), Hasim Ansari, Hari Shankar Sah, Ritesh Singh, Suraj Patel, Saifullah Ansari, Rashid Khan, Ritesh Singh, Rahul Pratap Singh, Kundan Singh, Sanjam Regmi, Bishal Shusling, Samshad Sheikh, Saurav Nagbanshi

Province 3
Jitendra Singh Thakuri (C), Rabin Joshi, Bhupendra Thapa, Suman Udaya, Sonu Tamang , Sanjaya Basnet, Asutosh Ghiraiya, Adil Khan, Ishan Pandey, Rupesh Shrivastav, Pratish GC, Kishor Mahato, Sagar Dhakal, Abhishek Jha

Province 4
Bidhan Shrestha (C), Govinda Pradhan, Aakash Thapa, Raju Gurung, Bipin Khatri, Amrit Gurung, Hari Bahadur Chauhan, Suman Ghimire, Santosh Neupane, Mekh Bahadur Sen, Ashok Shrestha, Ramesh Basnet, Manzil Neupane, Anil Gurung

Province 5
Final selection on Sunday

Province 6
Rabindra Jung shahi (Captain), Prakash Jaishi, Tek Salami, Dinesh Pun, Nischal Rawol, Bipin Rawol, Dinesh Adhikari, Lalit Pyakurel , Vijaya 
Bista, Diwan Pun, 
Sandip Shahi, Chandra 
BC, Mahesh Khatri, Saugat Karki

Province 7
Bijay Rana (C), Arun Airee, Dipendra Thapa, Lokesh Bam, Sher Malla, Sanju Damai, Surendra Chand, Rohit Singh, Sagar Bhandari, Bikash Aagri, Bikram Thagunna, Binod Lama, Santosh Bhatta, Roshan Nepali

Tribhuvan Army Club
Binod Bhandari (C), Sompal Kami, Sagar Pun, Anil Mandal, Mahesh Chhetri, Naresh Budhayer, Raju Rijal, Rajesh Pulami, Bikram Sob, Hari Krishna Jha, Avinash Karn, 
Jitendra Mukhiya, Chandra Sawad, Sushan Bhari, Shahab Alam, Rahul Vishwakarma

Nepal Police Club
Manjeet Shrestha (C), Dilip Nath, Dipendra Singh Airee, Yogendra Singh Karki, Aarif Sheikh, Amit Shrestha, Sunil Dhamala, Prem Tamang , Sushil Kandel, Lalit Singh Bhandari, Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi, Siddhant Lohani, Ram Naresh Giri, Kushal Bhurtel, Dipesh Shrestha.

Armed Police Force
Basant Regmi (C) Subash Khakurel Karan KC Prithu Baskota, Rohit Poudel, Anil Sah, Bhuwan Karki, Pradip Aire, Sandip Jora, Amar Sing Routela, Pawan Sarraf, Yagman Kumal, Kamal Singh Aire, Aasif Seikh

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