Substitute-less Kathmandu lose eliminatorKathmandu were without a single substitute player after all four overseas players left team without getting payments.
The eliminator match between Kathmandu Knights and Biratnagar Super Kings in the Nepal T20 League saw one of the rarest moments – the former were without a single substitute player in the dugout – at the TU cricket ground in Kirtipur.
Kathmandu eventually suffered a resounding 99-run defeat to bow out of the tournament. Kathmandu’s all four overseas players had left the team, leaving only 11 players in the Kathmandu team, all of whom featured in the game, which eventually turned out to be their last game of the League.
Zimbabwean cricketer Rayn Burl and Afghani Azmatullah Omarzai had left the team following payment issues of players last Tuesday, while British player Alex Blake and Malaysian Virandeep Singh flew out on Sunday – all without getting their salary.
Kathmandu captain Gyanendra Malla said that various factors contributed to such a situation. “The miscommunication between the management and the change in team ownership at the last moment, contributed to this,” said Malla.
“We have come during the Christmas leaving behind our families to play in the tournament. But we haven’t seen anything yet, so it’s a bit worrying,” Kathmandu’s player Blake had told last week.
“There were lots of issues and their tickets had already been booked. It was a new experience and the selection was easy,” Malla said sarcastically, talking about the controversy-hit event that has been plagued by match fixing and spot fixing scandals. Three separate bodies — the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police and the International Cricket Council (ICC) are conducting separate investigations into the match-fixing scandal.
Though the players should have been given 40 percent of the payment before the kickoff and the remaining amount during the tournament, most of the teams have not been paid a single penny. As a result of this, the early fixture on last Tuesday (January 3) was delayed by two hours, but the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) negotiated with the players that they would be paid before the tournament concluded.
“We have not got the payment as of now, but CAN and the franchises have assured us in writing that they would make the payments. Hopefully, we will get the whole amount by tomorrow,’ said Malla, also the former captain of the national team.
However, on late Tuesday evening most of the Kathmandu players got 65 percent of their salary, according to team sources. “Some three or four players did not receive the payments because of bank account issues,” said a source.
Biratnagar and Nepal national team captain Rohit Paudel said that he was surprised to see just 11 players. “Such a thing normally does not happen in cricket. But, cricket is a game and although they did not have foreign players, the Nepali players also could throw tough challenges. So, we did not take them lightly,” Paudel said.
He added that the inquiry of match fixing and spot fixing had made life difficult for the players.
“Three separate bodies are conducting their inquiries into fixing. It is neither good for cricket nor for the players. We players are going through a bad time, but we need to cooperate,” said Paudel at the post-match conference after defeating Kathmandu.
Paudel also informed that only one member of the squad had received 65 percent of his salary, while none of the others had been paid so far. “The franchise has said that they have released the payments for all the players and hopefully, we will get it by today or tomorrow. We will go and discuss once again with the team management today,” said Paudel.
CAN had leased the annual event for eight years to an Indian sports management company, Seven3Sports, as ‘commercial and strategic partner’, for Rs 330 million, without any open bidding. But Seven3Sports managing director Jatin Ahluwalia has not been in contact with CAN officials or any of the Nepali stakeholders and has reportedly fled the scene. Seven3Sports is also the prime suspect in the match-fixing and spot-fixing scandals, according to various media reports.
The national captain Paudel-led Biratnagar Super Kings registered a thumping 99-run victory over Kathmandu Knights in the eliminator as they secured a berth for the second qualifier.
Biratnagar will next meet Janakpur Royals in the next qualifier on Tuesday for a place in the final.
Janakpur had lost to the table topper Lumbini All Stars in the first qualifier on Sunday.
Kathmandu Knights, led by former national captain Gyanendra Malla, are themselves to be blamed for Monday’s defeat as they came up with a poor show in batting to bow out of the tournament. Only four players – opener Lokesh Bam (13), captain Malla (15), Basir hamad (10) and Abinash Bohara (16) managed to touch double-digit scores in the run chase.
Kathmandu came with only 11 players in the squad and did not have a single substitute player in the dugout as all of their overseas players had returned home earlier on Monday.
Electing to bat first, Biratnagar posted a challenging total of 182/6, riding on a half century by captain Paudel. In the run chase, Kathmandu were skittled out for a paltry 83 runs in 12.4 overs after left arm orthodox bowler Surya Tamang grabbed four wickets.
Though Biratnagar made a shaky start to their innings, losing openers Guranshu Sharma and Arjun Saud on 1 run and 2 runs respectively, captain Paudel and Pakistani all-rounder Hussain Talat shared a 98-run stand for the third wicket to recover from the early setback.
Paudel hit 61 runs off 49 balls, the highest of the innings, studded with six hits to the fence along with two sixes. The player-of-the-match also hit his fourth half century of the tournament before being caught by Saurav Khanal off the bowling of Sunam Gautam.
Talat scored a 23-ball 38, that included a boundary and three sixes. He was caught by Khanal off a delivery by Anil Kharel. Bibek Yadav contributed an unbeaten 46 runs in his quickfire knock of 18 balls. He hit three boundaries and three sixes in his swashbuckling knock. Raj Nannan also made a remarkable contribution of 23 runs in his 17-ball knock before he was bowled by Kamal Airee.
Kathmandu bowlers Airee and Kharel claimed two wickets each while Abinash Bohara and Guatam KC accounted for a wicket each. Airee conceded 35 runs in his four overs of bowling while Kharel gave away 37 runs in his four over spell.
Chasing the target, Kathmandu kept losing wickets cheaply at regular intervals. Tailender Abinash Bohara’s not out on 16 was the highest individual scorer of the innings. He hit two sixes and a boundary in his four-ball knock.
Opener Santosh Karki (8), Sandeep Rajali (4), Basir Ahamad (5) Saurav Khanal (1), Gautam KC (0) and Anil Kharel (1) were all dismissed cheaply.