Upgraded young talents Sandeep Lamichhane and Aarif Sheikh hit the jackpot as the Everest Premier League (EPL) Twenty20 auction took place in Kathmandu .
A day after the duo were lifted to Category ‘A’ from ‘B’ considering their recent performances and status in the national team, leg spinner Sandeep and allrounder Aarif attracted highest bid of Rs 175,000 confirming the duo is hot property in Nepali cricket. Sandeep went to Lalitpur Patriots and Aarif was bought by Bhairahawa Gladiators.
Aarif has been in and out of national team since making his debut with the 2014 ACC Premier League in Malaysia. He last played for the national team in the recently concluded ICC World Cricket League Championship (WCLC) away matches against Hong Kong. Sandeep, who has seen a meteoric rise of his cricketing career in a short span, has already cemented his place in the senior fold since making debut with the WCLC home matches against Namibia last year.
Along with the young duo, fast bowling allrounder Karan KC and hard hitter Binod Bhandari also hit Rs 175,000 jackpot. Pokhara Rhinos bought Bhandari and Biratnagar Warriors got Karan who also sold in a maximum bidding price in the Dhangadhi Premier League for CYC Attariya.
Another cricketer Rajesh Pulami Magar was also promoted to ‘A’ but could only draw an amount of Rs 120,000 from Rhinos. National team veteran Basanta Regmi was a surprise sold who didn’t reach the maximum bid price after Warriors paid them Rs 160,000.
Along with Basanta, Pradeep Airee was the joint second highest earner in the auction sold for Rs 160,000 to Gladiators whose second biggest buy was Category ‘B’ players Krishna Karki and Bhuwan Karki for Rs 125,000 each.
Mehboob Alam and Sagar Pun were the third highest earners sold for Rs 150,000 each to Patriots and Kings XI respectively. Jitendra Mukhiya and Naresh Budhayer – sold for Rs 120,000 each – are two other Category ‘A’ players for Kings XI who invested Rs 125,000 for Category ‘B’ player Sushil Kandel.
Chitwan Tigers saved Rs 80,000 from their total purse amount of one million rupees roping in former U-19 skipper Prithu Baskota for their highest buy of Rs 140,000. Wicket keeping batsman Subash Khakurel (Rs 100,000) is their only other Category ‘A’ player, while they bought Category ‘B’ players Shahab Alam and Lalit Singh Bhandari for Rs 125,000 each.
Saurav Khanal, who had taken the PM Cup 50-over National cricket tournament by storm, attracted all six franchises before he was sold to Rhinos for Rs 100,000 through lottery. Kushal Bhurtel and Pawan Sarraf also drew attention of six owners before the duo went to Patriots for Rs 125,000 via lottery.
Aarif’s brother and U-19 opener Aasif Sheikh went to Warriors for a maximum bidding amount of Rs 125,000 after all six owners lifted the flag for them.
EPL Pvt Ltd has already unveiled six marquee players who are bought by their respective franchise for an undisclosed amount. The marquee players were set a base price of Rs 200,000.
Paras Khadka (Warriors), Sharad Vesawkar (Gladiators), Gyanendra Malla (Patriots), Sompal Kami (Kings XI), Dipendra Singh Airee (Tigers) and Shakti Gauchan (Rhinos) are the marquee players. While inclusion of three foreign recruits has been made mandatory, one player must come into the side through talent hunt.