KATHMANDU, Dec 7: Kathmandu Kings XI made the first foray in the ever-increasing extravaganza of franchise cricket in Nepal with the announcement of signing with couple of big international stars Zimbabwean Sikandar Raza and Irish Kevin O’Brien for the upcoming third season of Everest Premier League (EPL) starting on December 8.
However, things did not pan out as expected and Raza was cancelled citing unavoidable circumstances as the EPL neared. The Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Kings XI Raj Jung Thapa was unfazed by the recent developments. “Everything happens for a reason. Rather than what has happened before we are focusing ahead, the mood in the squad is great. Kevin’s arrival has boosted us. The coach Binod Das and captain Sompal Kami are working hard to give the team the best shape possible for the tournament.”
The acquisition of former Nepal captain and current U-19 cricket team head coach Binod Das is an achievement. Das was involved in the organizing committee till last season helping Zohra Sports Management establish a league as big as EPL. His expertise and experience will be invaluable to Kings XI this season.
Likewise, signing of O’Brien, the only Test centurion from his nation Ireland which he scored in its first ever Test match against Pakistan in May, arrived Nepal on Wednesday with much fan fare. A popular name even in this part of the world, after O’Brien scored a match winning century against England in ICC World Cup 2011, is arguably the biggest name being associated with the EPL.
Kings XI had acquired Sri Lankan Test player Farveez Maharoof last year and has been one of the most distinct franchises in Nepal with their yearlong plans and early execution of stuffs like Fan Cup and Corporate Cup heading into the big event. “Being a franchise we have always thought about yearly plans. I started planning for the next season the moment our last season finished. If the brand is willing to create and work on plans then the players involved in it automatically gets elevated,” added Thapa.
Similarly, Thapa also agreed to the fact that ultimately it is about performances on the field that matters to the fans and how the franchise complements it. “This Fan Cup helps us get introduced to new fans but performances in the field are equally important. Both go hand in hand.” He further added that owners are innovators who are helping setup a system which can give a kind of earning to all the aspiring cricketers all around Nepal to pick up the sport as a serious career.
Kings XI has been promoting women’s cricket as well through their franchise. Two female cricketers Ashmita Kharel and Anisha Parajuli came through a ‘Talent Hunt’ conducted by the franchise and have been involved with the team through all the training sessions.
Kharel recently finished bachelor’s level of her study and has been training in Ultimate Indoor Cricket in Koteshwar for the around six months. She is upbeat about the opportunity which is going to help her grow at the personal level. “It is a great opportunity for our personal development. Yes, we are not going to play matches but the experience will help us grow as a sportsperson,” said Kharel.
Similarly, Parajuli has been training with the Nepal Police Club men cricketers which helped her pass through the talent hunt and participate in the Kings XI trainings. “The brothers from Police Club were impressed with my cricket and pushed me to give trials for Kings XI. The opportunity has helped us realize that we can also play at this level. This will help our confidence in the future,” said Parajuli.