Warriors, Patriots clash todaySkippers Paras Khadka and Gyanendra Malla will both seek winning start as Nepal’s one of the most colourful franchise tournament, the Everest Premier League, kicks off on Saturday at the Tribhuvan University Stadium.
Skippers Paras Khadka and Gyanendra Malla will both seek winning start as Nepal’s one of the most colourful franchise tournament, the Everest Premier League, kicks off on Saturday at the Tribhuvan University Stadium.
Khadka-led Warriors is the defending champion, who had beaten Sharad Vesawkar’s Bhairahawa Gladiators in a last-ball thriller in last season’s final. Tagged favourites one more time courtesy of the inclusion of Dutch duo Roelof van der Merwe and Paul van Meekeren along with previous edition’s man-of-the-series Babar Hayat and India U-19 World Cup winner Smit Patel, Khadka said the pressure will be on them when it takes on Patriots.
“Its going to be another exciting season and we are looking forward to it. The pressure will be on us because we finished our campaign unbeaten last season. People will expect us to do even better. The boys are ready and we are eager to get off to a good start,” Khadka told the Post on the eve of the match.
Warriors will be without its explosive opener Hayat for the first game as the former Hong Kong skipper is in an international duty. But with two experienced campaigners in veteran Van der Merwe and medium pacer Van Meekeren joining in, Khadka said the team is capable enough to make up for Hayat’s absence.
“They (Van der Merwe and Van Meekeren) both are experienced players although it is going to be first franchise league for them in Nepal. The most important thing is that they have shown desire to feature in Nepali league and I think they will probably know what to do,” added the national team skipper.
Irrespective of how foreign recruits fare, Warriors still has a haul of experienced cricketers in its squad beginning with the skipper himself who has always given the performance whenever his team required. Veteran spinner Basanta Regmi, fast bowling allrounder Karan KC, opener Anil Sah and seamer Ramnaresh Giri are some other settled names in domestic cricket for the Warriors.
Patriots doesn’t have big international names but the Indian trio of Sunny Patel, Jay Kishan Kolsawala and Gaurav Tomar is experienced enough to make impact in the Nepali domestic league. Sunny, an effective leg-spinner with the new ball, also played for Patriots last season and Kathmandu Goldens in the Dhangadhi Premier League under Gyanendra Malla.
He is among the few cricketers with maximum experience in Nepali leagues following a successful stint with Chitwan Rhinos under Khadka in last month’s Pokhara Premier League where he walked with the man-of-the-series trophy. “More than the name, it’s the work that recognises the players. We have foreign players who have experience of playing in the Nepali leagues and I hope we get a good start,” said Malla.
Kolsawala also played for Patriots last season and featured in PPL as well for Malla’s Kathmandu Royals. The wicketkeeper-batsman will open the innings for Patriots and will be expected to give his team a desired start. Tomar, meanwhile, is the latest entrant in the Nepali league playing PPL for Royals. Tomar is a hard-hitting batsman who amassed 258 runs in the PPL with two half centuries.
Apart from the Indian trio, Malla himself is one of the key players for Patriots which will have leg spin sensation Sandeep Lamichhane for the first two matches.
Lamichhane is leaving for Australia to play in the Big Bash League which begins on December 19. Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi will be another spinner to watch for Patriots along with emerging teen fast bowler Rashid Khan.