The Everest Premier League’s second season is underway promising to be more exciting and entertaining than previous one. The opening match rather turned out to be a lame affair but there were enough talking points to indicate what is in store for coming days.
Foreign players at home: Indian players Sudesh Bhati, Jaykishan Kolsawala and Sri Lankan Akshu Fernandez looked well and truly at home in their first outing on Nepali soil today. Bhati whereas mesmerized everyone with his pace bowling restricting Kathmandu Kings XI for mere 89 runs, Kolsawala produced a patient innings that made sure Patriots go over the line chasing the paltry total. Similarly, Fernandez tried his best first with the bat scoring 15 runs and then again with the ball by picking up two wickets but couldn’t prevent from Patriots cake-walking the match. Yogesh Nagar didn’t have much to do with the bat in today’s match but delivered the excellent four-over spell. Farveez Maharoof had a disappointing day but not before hitting a six and bowling couple of economical overs in the middle. All in all, foreign players looked at home putting up match-defining performances from the very first match of the tournament. This can really shape the tournament as a competitive as it ever was in Nepal before.
Maharoof’s captaincy: A matter of debate from the day it was announced that Maharoof would be made the captain of the Kathmandu Kings XI team despite having experienced national players like Sagar Pun or Sompal Kami in the ranks. Especially the fact that it was decided before even Maharoof landed in Nepal shows the lack of conviction from Kathmandu side going into a marquee event. In today's match, he kept rotating all his bowlers in a desperate attempt to find the breakthrough when Patriots skipper Gyanendra Malla and Kolsawala went on to their business patiently inching towards the lowly target. One can say there wasn’t much room to maneuver for Maharoof but an overseas captain is going to find it difficult to understand the quality and potential of Nepali players in the squad in such small span of time. The player as good as Amar Singh Routela who was crucial to Team Chauraha’s title quest in Dhangadhi Premier League earlier this year was dropped from the match. KKXI’s fortunes in the EPL will depend on how quickly they find the balance in their playing XI.
Fans welcome EPL with open arms: Much hyped and publicized EPL met with encouraging number of fans on the day one of the mega events. Concerns were made if EPL will be able to draw crowds or not despite all the attempts of fan involvement, celebrity programs, international players, etc. The fans came and participated in huge numbers despite being the working day in Kathmandu. They were vocal and passionate throughout the match. Sompal Kami definitely gets the biggest cheer of the match but Gyanendra Malla wasn’t far behind. With other star players like Babar Hayat, Paras Khadka, etc yet to take field the organizers can be positive to see numbers increase in coming days.
Nepali players holding their own: Sompal Kami sending Pawan Sarraf’s stump for a cartwheel flying in the air, Rajbir Singh scoring a picture perfect flick shot for four, Lalit Rajbanshi getting the man of the match and Mehboob Alam as efficient as ever shows that Nepali players won’t be left behind in the tournament from matching performances with much celebrated foreign recruits. The low scoring didn’t help but to conclude from the glimpses they showed, players from being a Sompal Kami to a Rajbir Singh and from a young left-arm spinner in Lalit to left arm veteran pacer Alam should have a good EPL and more Nepali players should follow suit from tomorrow.
No third umpire: Third umpiring was much hyped before the tournament but wasn’t used in today’s match. There was an instance during the match when Malla edged a ball to close catcher off a Maharoof delivery. All the Kathmandu Kings XI players started celebrating the dismissal and gathered at the centre of the ground. However, on-field umpires never gave the decision. It wasn’t even referred to the third umpire. The leg-umpire in that over Devendra Subedi explained that the catch didn’t carry. Maharoof asked for the third umpire but the decision was already made. There was another close stumping chance in the match which should might gone to the third umpire but it wasn’t referred and then again the decision was made ‘not out’.