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Troubled DPL seeks grand closing

Feb 23, 2019 | Eddie Van Brooks |

First a two-day postponement, slow pitch, a string of low team totals, four wash outs and one boycott. No one had ever imagined that Fapla Cricket Ground was going to be cursed in its debut.


The cricket enthusiasts of Dhangadhi, including the Dhangadhi Premier League (DPL) organisers Dhangadhi Cricket Academy, have already proposed Fapla to become an international standard stadium to the state and central government. There has been a whim in domestic cricket where every other individual desired to see the grazing field at the bank of Mohana river to take shape of international stadium. If not everyone, at least those who are honest might have envisaged that dream.

Organising DPL for the first time at the Fapla had a reason. The ground was maintained and bringing in the six franchises together to compete at the ground was to knock the doors of the stake holders, or the government, to convey the message that a step forward has been taken to see Fapla as a world class cricket venue in future.

Keep aside Rs 3 million cash prize offered for the champions now because Friday's development has suggested that the highest amount given in domestic cricket never seemed to have value. And it quietly summed up how the tournament had gone so far.

Cold beginning

The third edition of Nepal's popular franchise Twenty20 cricket tournament, at least it was in the first two editions considering the excitement in domestic cricketers, had a cold beginning. DCA were forced to postpone the tournament for two days chopping off the rest days after unexpected rain ruined the ground.

The organisers did manage to clear out the puddle from the Fapla ground but the damage was already being done. The already-slow pitch, seemingly caused by technical flaws, began to show its colours with a string of low team totals. The spinners ruled the game and crossing 100 was a milestone. The nature of the game demanded free-scoring and personal achievements but Fapla remained a nightmare for batsmen barring few performers.


And then the boycott

Already dogged by unfriendly playing conditions, DPL witnessed its worst, for the first time in overall domestic franchise league, when national team vice-captain's Kathmandu Goldens decided to boycott the second Qualifier against the Mahendranagar United.

Protesting over tournament technical committee's decision to ban their Indian recruit Ankit Dabas from bowling for illegal action, United didn't show up at the Fapla ground. For a gentleman's game, United's boycott has not only left a stain in DPL but also in Nepali cricket overall.

The statement given by technical committee head Buddhi Bahadur Pradhan, an International Cricket Council umpire, suggested that Goldens team management never made Dabas aware about his bowling action even though they were asked to do so after the first report following the completion of the final league game.

Dabas returned to bowl against CYC Attariya in the first Qualifier where he was double reported resulting in suspension. Goldens manager Sanjay Shrestha did appear in the media but with contradictory statement. Shrestha claimed Dabas was never given a chance for correcting his action.

How Shrestha handled the situation was also apprehensive. "It’s a franchise league and no one can force us to play. If we want to play, we would. If we don't want, we won't," said Shrestha. He was giving statement on behalf of the entire Goldens team.

Goldens management will have to do soul searching for an act that was completely against the spirit of the game irrespective of the decision from the tournament technical committee, either good or bad.


A grand final?

Following United's boycott, Sharad Vesawkar's United will now play Dipendra Singh Airee-led CYC Attariya. In a tournament marred by multiple problems, the third edition of DPL now seeks a grand closing to redeem itself.

It is important for the game to be exciting and final played as a final at least for the sake of game. Attariya had begun the tournament as clear underdogs with only one renowned name of domestic cricket in their strategic player Dipendra and bolstered by Indian duo Sunny Patel and Jaykishan Kolsawala.

The three players have been pivotal in Attariya's journey to the final and will once again be expected to perform. United, on the other hand, have been on a roller coaster ride. They began with two consecutive defeats had one match washed out and defeated Attariya in a rain-reduced game.

The tournament has not been smooth for them with hardly any batsmen managing to score big runs. But in a Twenty20's final, the day could be for anyone.



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