Nepal cricket July 15, 2014

Nepal looks to make case as neutral venue

With pleasant weather, enthusiastic public and a brand new ground on its way, Nepal could make a serious case to become the next neutral venue for international cricket
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A view of the under-construction Mulpani cricket ground which is expected to be completed later this year
A view of the under-construction Mulpani cricket ground which is expected to be completed later this year © Kaushal Adhikari

Home to eight of the ten tallest peaks in the world, it is only apt that Nepal is called 'the Home of the Gods'. It seems appropriate, therefore, that Nepal's newest cricket stadium, the half-complete Mulpani Cricket Ground in Kathmandu, is located atop a hill, that little bit closer to the heavens. The ground shares its acronym with a more celebrated stadium from the southern hemisphere, but the Mulpani ground possesses its own charm, with panoramic views of the Himalayas and the growing metropolis of Kathmandu.

Part of the romance associated with cricket revolves around the arena where all the action unfolds, whether it is the ocean-side Arnos Vale Stadium in St Vincent, or the grass banks of the Queenstown Events Centre surrounded by the Remarkables mountain range in New Zealand. With Nepal unlikely to receive Test or ODI status in the near future, there is a reason why the half-built stadium at Mulpani and the other existing grounds in Nepal could be on their way to becoming among the most picturesque locations for world cricket. This is because Nepal's cricket officials believe that Mulpani has a chance of becoming a neutral venue, open to year-long cricket due to a climate that makes play possible even during the height of the subcontinental summer. Now, if only the stadium could get ready in time.

There were expectations that the Mulpani stadium, partly funded by the ACC, would be ready to host cricket soon. Until now, however, apart from the pavilion block and the wall lining the stadium, there are no other concrete fixtures at the ground. While some work has been done on the pitch and outfield, the ground is not yet in a state to accommodate any cricket. Tarini Bikram Shah, the acting President of CAN, believes that "if all goes well, the stadium should be ready for some cricket in four months."

Once this picturesque ground is ready, Kathmandu could at least hope to give itself a chance to take the stage as the world's next neutral venue on the lines of Sharjah, Singapore and Toronto. Paras Khadka, the captain of the Nepal cricket team certainly believes so: "There is no reason why Nepal cannot become a popular neutral venue because we have good weather for almost nine months in a year and the locals love the sport".

If all goes well, the stadium at Mulpani is expected to be the largest in terms of seating capacity in Nepal, with the stands and grass banks projected to accommodate about 30,000 fans, but the ground has had a few troubles already. In 2007, the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) decided to construct an international-quality stadium on this plot. Before that, various plans from CAN, the ICC and the Asian Cricket Council all suggested the setting up of various institutions in Mulpani, from cricket academies to administrative headquarters, none of which materialised.

Apart from the Mulpani stadium, Nepal does have a few grounds such as the Tribhuvan University International Cricket Ground (TU Ground) and the Pulchowk Cricket Ground in Kathmandu, which have hosted ICC and ACC events in the past. Outside Kathmandu, there are a few cricket grounds, the best known in Pokhara, Nepal's third-largest city. The TU Ground can accommodate about 20,000 spectators but the others don't have sophisticated seating facilities and are limited to hosting around 5000 fans.

Yet there is a strong case to be made for cricket in Kathmandu - its climate. Temperatures rarely climb above 30 degrees Celsius during the year. June is the hottest time of the year and it can be safely said that most people wouldn't consider it anything short of pleasant. The average rainfall is highest during July-August, but it is rarely more than 400 inches (approx 10,000mm). Between April and September, when the heat and the monsoon restrict South Asia's cricket season, the temperate climate of Kathmandu offers a tempting window for cricket in the region.

Another reason that makes Nepal a promising neutral venue is the local support for the game. Unlike, other smaller cricketing nations, such as UAE and Hong Kong, where teams are largely made up of expatriates, Nepal's national team, comprises indigenous players who have usually come through the ranks playing age-group cricket. Walk into a sports shop in Kathmandu, and one can see that cricket has its place. A quick chat with taxi drivers, security guards and hawkers on the street will tell you that football is still the country's number one sport, but the growing appetite for cricket among Nepal's public is unquestionable, something that national and global administrators of the sport would do well to capitalise on.

As things stand, India and Pakistan are slotted to play six Test series between 2015 and 2023. With Pakistan still lacking a home venue, Nepal could be a viable option due to its connectivity and proximity to both countries. Unlike other neutral venues - like Toronto, Singapore and Sharjah - where the presence of Indian and Pakistani expatriate populations is an important factor in filling up the stadiums, many are confident that local crowds will flock to the grounds in Nepal.

According to Khadka: "The local population loves the game and at least 15-20,000 people turn up at the Tribhuvan University Ground to watch the national team play. There is no doubt that the stadium will be packed even when quality international teams come to play". Aamir Akhtar, a former Nepal cricketer and occasional advisor to CAN, says, "Cricket tournaments in Sharjah brought countries together and Nepal now has the opportunity to promote peace and good relations through cricket."

Akhtar offers another arrow in Nepal's quiver - Mulpani as a venue for pre-season training for first-class teams from around the world. "The weather in Kathmandu is pleasant all-year round and with the pitch at Mulpani set to assist seam bowling, Kathmandu could become an attractive destination for pre-season tours by county teams," he says. It will mark a considerable - and financially viable - shift away from the established practice by county teams like Yorkshire and Durham of undertaking pre-season tours to South Africa and West Indies. Few teams travel to the subcontinent due to the vastly dissimilar pitch and weather conditions, but Mulpani's supporters are hoping to change that trend.

The first steps to take international cricket to Nepal were seen with the Tempo Legends World Cup in 1999. The tri-series involving veteran stars representing India, Pakistan and a 'Rest of the World' team and was played at the Tribhuvan University Ground in 1999. The tournament was jointly organised by CAN and Zee Sports, but there was no capitalisation on the momentum to put cricket in Kathmandu on the world map. With a creditable showing at the World T20 and Nepal's recent T20 international status, the public's interest is only on the rise, making this a good time to take the game to Nepal in a bigger way.

Bishen Jeswant is a stats sub editor at ESPNcricinfo. @bishen_jeswant

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on November 10, 2014, 11:24 GMT

    Pokhara was the first choice for the Cricket academy, but its identity as Nepal's most raining place ruined the plan at very initial stage. The ICC and the ACC then asked for a suitable location in Kathmandu valley. Being a wellwisher for Nepalese Cricket and the interest behind backyard neighbourhood, I called upon then CAN President JayKumarNath Shah to pay a visit to Mulpani. That was more than 14 years ago. I am always optimist no matter the delay in the completion. I had assured the ACC representative and former Australian national cricketer(I forgot his name) that had it been Pokhara the bright image of Mt Machhapuchhre would have ruled over every cricket watchers' heart. Nevertheless Mulpani would promise the view of Mt Dorje Lhakpa!

  • on September 12, 2014, 17:34 GMT

    cricket is definitely the rapid growing sports in Nepal. It would be an incredible to have couple or so international standard stadiums. Its interesting how they talk about how Nepal could be an incredible place to host cricket because of its unique prospects of weather n its amazing places to visit.im pretty sure that stadium is only a piece of dream. but hope to have it into reality..

  • Kinguru007. on July 17, 2014, 20:02 GMT

    The place looks full of greenery. Hope the ground will have bit of grass to give support for the fast bowlers unlike the other usual flat tracks that we have around subcontinent. I work in Abu Dhabi and I have Nepalese with me. They all talk about and knows about cricket as much others like Sri Lankan, Indian, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They know the game. They know how big this can be for them and this can be a good opportunity. Even if they don't build the stadium for international cricket mark my word Nepal will be competing with other big teams by 2016. Lankan fan.

  • on July 17, 2014, 15:17 GMT

    let's hope for the better future.At this time hope is the only key for the Nepali sports lover.

  • on July 17, 2014, 13:22 GMT

    Wow...International matches at our home at the expense of Nepali rupees...can't wait to witness it!!

  • Nayan_Bhuyan on July 17, 2014, 10:38 GMT

    Its a very good news for the Nepal Cricket. Nepal should deserve an international cricket stadium..

  • Kaji_Thebe on July 17, 2014, 9:25 GMT

    I don't know how much time it takes to complete, but I'm feeling really excited about it. Though the primary obligation is of CAN itself, ICC should closely monitor the cricketing activities in Nepal. I think, ICC should instead of concentrating such a huge portion of its budget in FMs, focus on developing cricket in Associates/Affiliates like Nepal, Afghanistan which will certainly help the game to become the "Game of All".

    Lastly, thank you so much Espncricinfo for featuring Nepal (frequently nowadays) :)

  • Samar_Singh on July 17, 2014, 6:30 GMT

    Government of Nepal has allocated NRs 20 crore (US$ 2 Mn approx) in this years budget to construct pavilion( of International standard) for this ground which is good but nothing else has been constructed in this ground as it is mention by ppl. Lots of things have to be done b4 any international event to happen in this ground. So still plenty of time is required for that. Nepal has every potential and ability to be a neutral host but CAN needs to wake up and transform things into reality. This place is beautiful with pleasant weather and enthusiast local support player would definitely love to play here. CAN can ask BCCI and other big shots for some support to construct this beautiful stadium. Good luck. Thanks cricinfo for the coverage.

  • on July 17, 2014, 6:21 GMT

    Excellent news. With the kind of close relations that India enjoys with Nepal, some of India's matches, whichever may be the opponent, can be played in Nepal. This will not only give a boost to the sport in Nepal, but also help in boosting its tourism economy.

  • ShurazB on July 17, 2014, 6:15 GMT

    Perfect climatic structure suits Nepal to be a neutral venue for cricket tournaments to host. the statement of 8th paragraph is very true with this issue, Nepalese pupils are vigorously attempting to support for cricket development!!! Welcome here everyone!!!

  • on November 10, 2014, 11:24 GMT

    Pokhara was the first choice for the Cricket academy, but its identity as Nepal's most raining place ruined the plan at very initial stage. The ICC and the ACC then asked for a suitable location in Kathmandu valley. Being a wellwisher for Nepalese Cricket and the interest behind backyard neighbourhood, I called upon then CAN President JayKumarNath Shah to pay a visit to Mulpani. That was more than 14 years ago. I am always optimist no matter the delay in the completion. I had assured the ACC representative and former Australian national cricketer(I forgot his name) that had it been Pokhara the bright image of Mt Machhapuchhre would have ruled over every cricket watchers' heart. Nevertheless Mulpani would promise the view of Mt Dorje Lhakpa!

  • on September 12, 2014, 17:34 GMT

    cricket is definitely the rapid growing sports in Nepal. It would be an incredible to have couple or so international standard stadiums. Its interesting how they talk about how Nepal could be an incredible place to host cricket because of its unique prospects of weather n its amazing places to visit.im pretty sure that stadium is only a piece of dream. but hope to have it into reality..

  • Kinguru007. on July 17, 2014, 20:02 GMT

    The place looks full of greenery. Hope the ground will have bit of grass to give support for the fast bowlers unlike the other usual flat tracks that we have around subcontinent. I work in Abu Dhabi and I have Nepalese with me. They all talk about and knows about cricket as much others like Sri Lankan, Indian, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They know the game. They know how big this can be for them and this can be a good opportunity. Even if they don't build the stadium for international cricket mark my word Nepal will be competing with other big teams by 2016. Lankan fan.

  • on July 17, 2014, 15:17 GMT

    let's hope for the better future.At this time hope is the only key for the Nepali sports lover.

  • on July 17, 2014, 13:22 GMT

    Wow...International matches at our home at the expense of Nepali rupees...can't wait to witness it!!

  • Nayan_Bhuyan on July 17, 2014, 10:38 GMT

    Its a very good news for the Nepal Cricket. Nepal should deserve an international cricket stadium..

  • Kaji_Thebe on July 17, 2014, 9:25 GMT

    I don't know how much time it takes to complete, but I'm feeling really excited about it. Though the primary obligation is of CAN itself, ICC should closely monitor the cricketing activities in Nepal. I think, ICC should instead of concentrating such a huge portion of its budget in FMs, focus on developing cricket in Associates/Affiliates like Nepal, Afghanistan which will certainly help the game to become the "Game of All".

    Lastly, thank you so much Espncricinfo for featuring Nepal (frequently nowadays) :)

  • Samar_Singh on July 17, 2014, 6:30 GMT

    Government of Nepal has allocated NRs 20 crore (US$ 2 Mn approx) in this years budget to construct pavilion( of International standard) for this ground which is good but nothing else has been constructed in this ground as it is mention by ppl. Lots of things have to be done b4 any international event to happen in this ground. So still plenty of time is required for that. Nepal has every potential and ability to be a neutral host but CAN needs to wake up and transform things into reality. This place is beautiful with pleasant weather and enthusiast local support player would definitely love to play here. CAN can ask BCCI and other big shots for some support to construct this beautiful stadium. Good luck. Thanks cricinfo for the coverage.

  • on July 17, 2014, 6:21 GMT

    Excellent news. With the kind of close relations that India enjoys with Nepal, some of India's matches, whichever may be the opponent, can be played in Nepal. This will not only give a boost to the sport in Nepal, but also help in boosting its tourism economy.

  • ShurazB on July 17, 2014, 6:15 GMT

    Perfect climatic structure suits Nepal to be a neutral venue for cricket tournaments to host. the statement of 8th paragraph is very true with this issue, Nepalese pupils are vigorously attempting to support for cricket development!!! Welcome here everyone!!!

  • on July 17, 2014, 5:23 GMT

    ... definitely, Nepal will be the best destination for cricket because of its pleasant weather and spectacular natural landscape as well as the cricket loving people...

  • on July 17, 2014, 4:38 GMT

    feeling good to read this article...thanks...

  • Anil_Koshy on July 17, 2014, 3:42 GMT

    Nepal and Afghanistan should become a regular feature in all future Asia Cup tournaments, instead of promoting expatriate cricket in UAE and Hong Kong, ICC should promote Nepal and Afghanistan because of local interest in the game. India should take more responsibility in promoting cricket in the region, it would be good for them.

  • on July 17, 2014, 1:31 GMT

    I hope Nepal become a neutral venue for India vs Pakistan

  • on July 16, 2014, 22:00 GMT

    I think that this would be great for cricket and I would love to see it happen. That stadium looks pretty 'under construction' though!

  • on July 16, 2014, 19:48 GMT

    Nepal's recent T20 international status, the public's interest is only on the rise, making this a good time to take the game to Nepal in a bigger way...Thanks for Good responce ESPN............

  • on July 16, 2014, 16:50 GMT

    Nepal comes as emerging nation of cricket. when Nepalese team played t2o world cup in Bangladesh a lot of Nepalese supporter had seen in there which proved popularity of cricket in here. To keep this popularity; need to some international game in here. still no international ground in here hence we have no option of mulpani ground so hoping for hasty completion of this ground

  • on July 16, 2014, 16:14 GMT

    feels really good to see these kindda articles in espncricinfo.

  • on July 16, 2014, 16:08 GMT

    bcci could arrange a match of indian team as a goodwill gesture to nepal

  • on July 16, 2014, 15:04 GMT

    m prouD tO be nepali.. now peoples 0f nepal are crazy fOr cricket. . so it is right time tO looK over nepal.and.best climate for test match.. coz oF temprature.. tHnx To cricnfO fOr positive post :)

  • on July 16, 2014, 14:06 GMT

    feeling good to read this article...thanks...

  • on July 16, 2014, 13:43 GMT

    As everyone know that nepal is rich in natural beauty. Mulpani will attrack lots of cricketer due to its natural beauty and cool climate. hope we can see test nations are busy in playing in mulpani and ICC And ACC should invest on it.

  • on July 16, 2014, 13:01 GMT

    No doubt Nepal has a huge number of cricket fans. And as mentioned in the article Nepal is a country of natural beauty and calm weather. Not only mulpani cricket ground but if given more support from both the Gov. Of Nepal and the ICC, Nepal can be both vacation site along with good cricket action where players can visit around the country after the tiring match and enjoy the nature .

  • on July 16, 2014, 12:55 GMT

    Why not? we want to see Nepal is the world's next neutral venue

  • on July 16, 2014, 12:33 GMT

    I wish it were true! If it happens, I am coming home!!!!

  • on July 16, 2014, 12:24 GMT

    Thanks for Good responce ESPN and everyone. We will oneday Proudly Organise Pakistan's Series games if they Are Positive.

  • Buckers97 on July 16, 2014, 11:26 GMT

    I have seen the Pakistan 'home' series on tv in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and the crowds are terribly, terribly low. Somthing less 10000 for all five days of the last test Pakistan played in UAE vs Sri-Lanka. So the board should consider playing a series that sees the first test played at Mulpani Cricket Ground, then the second test is played in Dubai etc. And I know they already sponsor Barcelona FC, but if Qatar Airways would jump on Pakistan and help them out with $$$ in sponsorships and/or airfairs would make this possibility of Nepal hosting test cricket and the fans of this sport (which seems a bigger number than in UAE) and even if there are $$$ coming out of UAE to have Pakistan play there, then can still have their two tests of a two test series (or 1 test in two match series). This is a great opportunity for Nepal, ICC & cricket in general. New Zealand are playing against Pak later in the year. Take a game from UAE to Nepal, just once to see how it goes and how the locals respond

  • on July 16, 2014, 11:19 GMT

    I m really thankfull for espn...

  • Vilander on July 16, 2014, 10:55 GMT

    Nepal can get an IPL team, there is sure to be some Bollywood buyers..BCCI could probably assist in constructing a cricket ground in Nepal bound to be fun

  • do_for_deeds on July 16, 2014, 10:30 GMT

    Hope ICC gives attention to Nepal to develop Cricket Infastructure

  • on July 16, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    Thanks cricinfo for promoting nepal and nepal cricket in recent period of time.Mulpani stadium has been the dream of all cricket lovers in Nepal.There is no doubt that it gonna be perfect neutral venue for any sorts of international cricket as it favours weather and all sorts of facilities as mentioned in this article.Nepal government being more responsible for the development in cricket has allocated budget of 20 crore in this fiscal year for construction of this stadium.Hope this will be ready for play as soon as possible and will be another milestone for development of cricket in Nepal.

  • on July 16, 2014, 9:47 GMT

    ICC never took Nepal seriously, now we deserve more than Bangladesh and Kenya. Its shame on our so called entrepreneurs/government who never promoted Nepal as neutral venue for cricket. I have a dream, one day we will be powerhouse of world cricket.

  • on July 16, 2014, 9:36 GMT

    Govt of Nepal has listed this Cricket stadium in top priorities. We hope that completion of this stadium will be soon and we will be able to witness some international matches.

  • on July 16, 2014, 9:27 GMT

    definitely icc should focus on nepal

  • on July 16, 2014, 9:23 GMT

    Last year we were associated nations champion but ICC didn't give the chance to play the Asia cup to Nepal. But AFG got the chance to play.

  • on July 16, 2014, 9:23 GMT

    This might be the good/cheap option for pakistan cricket board to host match...

  • yohandf1984 on July 16, 2014, 7:46 GMT

    When next Asia cup come , it should consist a qualifier round to choose 5 th team between Afghanistan , Nepal , UAE and Hong kong . This should be held in Nepal . Good luck from Sri Lanka

  • D-Ascendant on July 16, 2014, 7:43 GMT

    No reason why it can't be home to an IPL franchise. It would certainly entice me to go visit Nepal.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • D-Ascendant on July 16, 2014, 7:43 GMT

    No reason why it can't be home to an IPL franchise. It would certainly entice me to go visit Nepal.

  • yohandf1984 on July 16, 2014, 7:46 GMT

    When next Asia cup come , it should consist a qualifier round to choose 5 th team between Afghanistan , Nepal , UAE and Hong kong . This should be held in Nepal . Good luck from Sri Lanka

  • on July 16, 2014, 9:23 GMT

    This might be the good/cheap option for pakistan cricket board to host match...

  • on July 16, 2014, 9:23 GMT

    Last year we were associated nations champion but ICC didn't give the chance to play the Asia cup to Nepal. But AFG got the chance to play.

  • on July 16, 2014, 9:27 GMT

    definitely icc should focus on nepal

  • on July 16, 2014, 9:36 GMT

    Govt of Nepal has listed this Cricket stadium in top priorities. We hope that completion of this stadium will be soon and we will be able to witness some international matches.

  • on July 16, 2014, 9:47 GMT

    ICC never took Nepal seriously, now we deserve more than Bangladesh and Kenya. Its shame on our so called entrepreneurs/government who never promoted Nepal as neutral venue for cricket. I have a dream, one day we will be powerhouse of world cricket.

  • on July 16, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    Thanks cricinfo for promoting nepal and nepal cricket in recent period of time.Mulpani stadium has been the dream of all cricket lovers in Nepal.There is no doubt that it gonna be perfect neutral venue for any sorts of international cricket as it favours weather and all sorts of facilities as mentioned in this article.Nepal government being more responsible for the development in cricket has allocated budget of 20 crore in this fiscal year for construction of this stadium.Hope this will be ready for play as soon as possible and will be another milestone for development of cricket in Nepal.

  • do_for_deeds on July 16, 2014, 10:30 GMT

    Hope ICC gives attention to Nepal to develop Cricket Infastructure

  • Vilander on July 16, 2014, 10:55 GMT

    Nepal can get an IPL team, there is sure to be some Bollywood buyers..BCCI could probably assist in constructing a cricket ground in Nepal bound to be fun