National cricket league starts today
Posted by Prabin the सोभित on शुक्रवार, मार्च 28, 2008
BY UJJWAL ACHARYA, The Kathmandu Post 2008-03-28
The inter-region format introduced in 2001 as Birendra Memorial National League will be played under round-robin league format and the top two teams in the standings will compete for the final on April 6.
The event will serve as the selection tournament for the national team scheduled to participate in two important events. Nepal will continue its fight for the World Cup 2011 qualification with World Cricket League Division V in Jersey in May while ACC Trophy in Malaysia will select two teams to play for the Asia Cup.
Region No 1 Biratnagar, with four titles in six editions, Bhairahawa, the four-time finalists, and Region No 3 Kathmandu, the three-time runner-up, are all looking forward to the title. Region No 2 Birgunj, the 2006 champion, will be the dark horse as always with the ability to knock out any team but not likely to play well consistently. Region No 5 Nepalgunj, with three wins in 27 matches so far, looks to erase the image of minnow along with Region No 6 Baitadi, which failed to register a win in the last two outings.
“We are not the favorites, our batting doesn’t look at par but with our strong bowling and favorable conditions, we are counting on reaching the final,” national captain Binod Das, who will lead Birgunj, said. Three grounds — TU, Lab and IOE — will host matches and Binod believes all will be bowler friendly.
Shakti Gauchan will lead Bhairahawa hoping for the second straight title. Always a strong team at the national level, Bhairahawa has a team of youngsters with six players from the under-19 team that competed in the Youth World Cup in Malaysia.
“We are the last year’s champions and we need to defend the title,” Shakti said after reaching Kathmandu Thursday evening. “We have prepared well and I am confident that we can defend the title.”
The team has a lot of experience in it despite being youthful and Shakti is banking on that experience. “We have a team of experienced players, and we are strong and balanced,” he added. “It’s the event that will decide which team is the best, and we want to be best.”
For Shakti, Kathmandu, the team he defeated last year to win the title, is the strong opponent along with Biratnagar. Kathmandu has been into the finals for three times and lost all three times. “This year, we need to win,” Kathmandu captain Paresh Lohani said. “We can’t always be runner-up.” Paresh believed with most of the national players and five players from Youth World Cup, Kathmandu is the team to watch.
Biratnagar wants to regain the lost glory. After winning the first four titles — two of them without playing as rain in 2002 and walkout in 2004 gave it the title, it failed to reach even the final in the next two editions. “Overall, we are a good team,” captain Manoj Katuwal, who is resuming his career after a break, said. “We have a good combination of experienced and new players and I am confident we will reach the final.”
Biratnagar will miss services of Dipendra Chaudhary, who decided to play from Kathmandu two years ago, after leading the team to titles in the earlier editions. But, it can count on Mehboob Alam, the two time man-of-the-series along with a best batsman and a best bowler award, and Raj Kumar Pradhan and a few other popular names.
“We have completed the preparation for the tournament and all grounds are ready,” Upendra Bhattarai, the co-ordinator of the organizing committee, said. The winner of the event receives a cash prize of Rs 75,000 while the runner-up pockets Rs 40,000.