Everest Premier League Season 2 Preview
The EPL could be the breeding ground for future Nepal stars.
It’s not often that one gets to preview a domestic tournament in Nepal for there isn't much that happens in the country in terms of cricket. It’s even rarer to actually be excited about a domestic tournament. But like a popular Asian proverb which roughly translates to “When god gives to the needy, he gives in plenty,” here we are on the verge of witnessing the most glamorous Nepali domestic tournament ever.
In spite of a complex triangle of troubled past, delicate present and a future which could range from shambolic to glorious, Nepali cricket for the next few days will just be about bat and ball, runs and wickets, and not ultimatums and elections, threats and boycotts.
The Big Picture
The picture is actually big. It should be big to even survive. Ever since the organizers Zohra Sports Management first came up with the idea of launching a franchise-based cricket system in Nepal, it has received claps and hate in equal proportion. After the controversy-marred 50-over edition a couple of years ago, it needed someone lion-hearted to even make this tournament possible. In the form of Amir Akhtar, Nepal had one.
It would not be an exaggeration to say had it not been for him, things might not have worked out. Ncell NPL became WaiWai EPL, 50 overs and multi-days are scrapped, auctions and international players are likely in the next edition – things have surely changed from the initial junctures. What began as a multi-format cricket initiative could soon turn into a vibrant T20 league with unimaginable potential. Given the cricket economy and what Nepali cricket actually stands for in the world, this transformation could actually prove to be a good one.
What can we expect?
For the next 10 days, expect some breath-taking cricket action and nothing else. Handsome match fees, free entry to grounds, live telecast on national television; Nepali domestic cricket has never been so rich. Six evenly balanced teams will be fighting it out with everything at stake - these 10 days could actually make or break careers for many. One dazzling knock or a brilliant spell here could suddenly make an unknown player a national darling.
EPL will feature players of all sorts. From Sanjam Regmi to Sushil Kandel, from Mehboob Alam to Siddhant Lohani, there are players of every kind putting their best foot forward. Alam, Regmi and players like Manjeet Shrestha, Paresh Lohni, Deepesh Khatri who are arguably not as good as they once were, represent a dimension – a crop of players who perhaps have a few things to prove. A solid performance could bring a new ray of light to their careers while a dismal show would almost certainly mean curtains.
Then there is the second group – the present generation. The cricket circle has been abuzz recently with murmurs that this group has started taking things for granted and are just surviving because of past performances. A lot is on the line for them.
It would be quite apt to say these players are the ones who need the EPL the most. Will it be Susan Bhari or Sushil Kandel to replace Gauchan once he retires? Do the likes of Bhuwan Karki and Rahul VK have any chance? Only time will tell.
Tez have allrounders, Legends and Rhinos have balance, Warriors have Paras Khadka, Gurkhas have Basant Regmi and his boys, X-Factors actually have an x-factor in Siddhant Lohani. As is often the case, teams with balance are likely to do well in this tournament.
Panchakanya Tez vs Sagarmatha Legends in the final.