Few months earlier Fapla Cricket Ground in Dhanghadi was unheard of but after Nepal Premier League (NPL) started taking shape and Dhangadi was selected for the two day matches of NPL, Fapla got a new identity. CAN took NPL as an opportunity to decentralize the game and 3 formats of NPL were set to be 3 different cities-Kathmandu(T20s), Biratnagar(50 over) and Dhanghadi(2 Day). Fapla Cricket Ground is one of the two venues in Dhanghadi where the 2 day matches will be contested. This ambitious aim of promoting the game all over the nation is proving to be a faith changer for Fapla.
Nepal took a giant step in international cricket playing its first ever world cup in Bangladesh a week ago. With some stirring performances Nepali players impressed everyone. In matter 3 matches Cricket’s fever covered the entire nation. And virtually everyone in Nepal wanted to see this game do bigger things.
With success of Nepal at World T20, the government showed keen intrest in serious promotion of the game. Lack of cricketing infrastructures was the biggest hurdle in Cricket’s growth in Nepal. Fapla Cricket Ground at what locals call “cricket capital of Nepal”, Dhanghadi was then being renovated for NPL, attracted immediate attraction. CAN Region No. 9(Dhangadi) members seeing the attraction requested CAN and government to groom Fapla as an International Cricketing venue. It was only time before Fapla was on cover of all local newspapers in the West.
Two Kilometres North from Chauraha on the bank of Mohana River in Boradadi lies Fapla with an area of 1369 sq. meters (31 Bigaha-incorporating the forest and school nearby). A small part of that is being used for the ground.
The brighter its future seems the darker was its past. It was part of a forest and was used by the local people as a free space to graze their cattle limiting its identity to a wasted pasture. A few kids would turn up now and then to play football albeit it was no sports venue. But with inception of NPL Fapla has now grabbed a new level of popularity throughout the nation.
Before Fapla, every cricket tournament in Dhangadi was played in Dhangadi Rangashala. But the Rangashala was built into a football stadium for 6th national games. So cricketet in Dhanghadi shifted to Zonal Police Ground. Zonal Police Ground is in the heart of Dhanghadi and although was easier for the spectators to come there and watch the game but the ground, being in police territory-the permission to host tournaments did not come easy.
It was those times when had just won WCL-4 and with Nepal’s success in ACC tournaments more people in Dhangadi got involved with cricket. Consequently, more tournaments were being hosted. And till today there is always a cricket tournament going on in Dhanghadi. Zonal Police being the only ground back then was thus mostly occupied.
Last year Dhangadhi Cricket Academy in its very first year of establishment set eye on starting a cricket league. It faced the same problem as many cricket tournaments face in Dhanghadi-unavailability of cricket ground. Subash Shahi then put forward the idea as developing Fapla as a cricketing venue and in the future upgrading with facilities of international standard. Luckily Fapla was approved for the first edition of the Dhangadi Cricket League.
“The condition of this place was miserable then” Shahi remembers the dusty ground in which first edition of DCA was played. “I saw a dream of international matches being played here and invested my personal money in its construction”, he explained. Right now Fapla is not just lusty green turf but also getting concrete parfaits for spectators.
The boundaries are mentioned as 70 m long in the map but the ground being constructed for NPL has around 60-65m boundaries, not quite big as you’d see in Australia or South Africa but enough for ICC to approve it for International Matches.
Selector and Cricket expert Basu Dev Joshi points out that Nepal needs more grounds to raise Nepal’s cricketing standard.
“Playing in the well equipped grounds(one with turf pitches) will help a player to sharpen his talent,” said Amit Poudel, a U16 national player who remembers playing all matches in Dhangadi in mats. When completed Fapla will be the first cricket ground with turf wickets in Dhanghadi.
The cost of construction of Fapla Cricket Ground is estimated at around 1 crore but when it is completed will give back a lot more. It will surely give Dhanghadi better chances at National Tournament. Also with better infrastructures, Nepal will rise higher in ICC’s Cricket development ranking. Fapla cricket ground will likely be completed in few days. Construction of a ground is a big deal in itself but what important, once the construction is completed, is its maintenance-if that is ensured Fapla will surely be a faith changer for Nepal cricket.