(Left) Nepal national cricket team head coach Jagat Tamata (center) and technical staff fix the matting wickets before the Prime Minister Cup one-day cricket tournament match between Karnali Province and Nepal Police Club at the Mulpani Cricket Stadium in Mulpani, Kathmandu on Sunday. (Right) A house on the premise of the cricket ground as players of Karnali Province and Nepal Police Club compete. Photo: Dipesh Shrestha/ Republica
KATHMANDU, May 27: The ongoing Prime Minister Cup One-Day Cup has been embroiled into a controversy after hosting a match between Karnali Province and Nepal Police Club on matting wickets at the under-construction Mulpani Cricket Stadium in Kathmandu on Sunday.
“We are an ODI nation now and still we have to play in matting wickets. This is a sad day in Nepali cricket. We have been thrown 15 years back in time,” said Manoj Katuwal, head coach of departmental team Police Club.
The reputation of the marquee one-day cricket tournament is in tatters after players were forced to compromise on Sunday’s inauguration of Mulpani’s much-awaited lower cricket ground.
“These tournaments are big opportunities for young and aspiring cricketers, but it seems that they are being held just for the sake of formality. You can’t risk the careers of young cricketers,” lambasted Katuwal, the former national cricket player.
According to Katuwal, all the captains and coaches of the participating teams were called for an emergency meeting on Saturday evening, where they decided to ‘compromise for the sake of young cricketers who wait for such tournaments to help enhance their careers.’
“We thought about the young players and had to agree. It was too late to forfeit the matches. It would have been unfair to the young cricketers to send them home after inviting them to play in the tournament.”
The upper cricket ground was out of question as an alternative, according to Katwal. “They said it will take another week’s time to prepare. I think, they had already decided that they will play in the lower ground at any cost.”
Meanwhile, Member Secretary of National Sports Council (NSC), Keshav Kumar Bista, stated that Mulpani was ready to host matches although the playing conditions might not be perfect.
“We organized matches at the lower ground after our technical team gave us a go ahead with the schedule. This is not the official opening of the Mulpani Cricket Stadium. We just wanted to convey the message that Mulpani is also ready to host cricket.”
Head coach of Nepal Cricket Team Jagat Tamata, Province 3 Assembly Member Mani Ram Phuyal, , Mayor of Kageshwari Manahara Municipality Krishna Hari Thapa, Chairman of the Municipality Prakash Phuyal, and Chairman of Nepalaya International Pvt Ltd Subash Chandra
Pradhan were present at the ground during the opening ceremony held before the match.
Land dispute still unsolved
Despite several claims made by National Sports Council (NSC) over the years, the Mulpani Cricket Stadium’s land dispute remains as it is with locals still residing within the ground.
The match between Karnali Province and Nepal Police Club under the Prime Minister Cup One-Day Cricket Tournament was played on the ground in Mulpani on Sunday with shortened boundary lines, which included an adjacent house along with the ground.
Although several families were moved from the area, two families are still residing at the Mulpani Cricket Stadium.
The two families had accepted to exchange their land for an alternative land provided by the government in the locality. However, they are yet to relocate themselves from the area due to various reasons.
“They have provided us the paper of the property where we are supposed to move.
But they have not shown us the land,” said Thuli Timilsina, one of the house owners. “If they could show us the land, we will move.”
On the other hand, Phul Maya Tamang’s new land has been encroached by squatters. “If the government could help us get our land, we would happily leave this place for international cricket stadium,” she said.
The construction of the Mulpani Cricket Stadium had started in 2007.
NSC Member Secretary Keshav Kumar Bista insisted that families will be moved within a few days.
Although the opening match between the two teams -- Karnali Province and Nepal Police Club -- was played on Sunday despite the existing conditions, the completion of the under-construction ground remains uncertain due to the land acquisition issue.