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Lack of experience slows progress in Northeast states’ return to cricket

All the teams from the North East block have flown to Bangalore for the Under-19 Associates and Affiliates tournament.

cricket Updated: Sep 17, 2016 16:05 IST
Bihan Sengupta
One of the reasons for the low scoring could be lack of adequate preparation for the team from the North East.
One of the reasons for the low scoring could be lack of adequate preparation for the team from the North East.(Representative Photo: Shutterstock)

Cricketing activity has begun in earnest in the North East region. With the region’s power set to be restored in the Board by the Supreme Court panel, the BCCI has got serious looking after cricketing talent from the hilly regions of the far east.

All the teams from the North East block have flown to Bangalore for the Under-19 Associates and Affiliates tournament. The participating teams include Sikkim, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Bihar.

Naba Bhattacharjee, secretary of Meghalaya Cricket Association, said the tournament has been revived after a gap of three years.

The group games of the Associates and Affiliates U-19 tournament comes to an end in Bangalore on Saturday, but such is the situation, that the matches have turned into a knock-out one.

In Group A, Bihar restricted both their opponents for less than 100 runs en route to their victories, while Meghalaya crushed Sikkim and Manipur to ensure their place in the last four from Group B. Nagaland (-0.379) have a better net run rate when they meet Arunachal Pradesh (-2.780), but with the clash turning into a knock-out one, a tie might be the only way Nagaland can feel relieved.

Any hope for Sikkim to go through, however, will rest on how well their batsmen perform. In their opening clash against Meghalaya, Dinesh Kumar Dhobi, the team’s No 11, was the only one to reach double figures. The batsmen would have little excuse for the shambolic display of their skills with nine of them being trapped in front of the wicket or having their timber shaken. Dinesh, again, was the only one bucking the trend.

With none of the six states having a permanent affiliation by the BCCI, there’s a lot at stake for the players who look to prove their mettle in these tournaments. However, let alone an individual hundred, there have been only four instances where a team has crossed the three-figure mark. While Nagaland opener Sedezhalie (61) is the only one to have scored a half-century, Meghalaya’s Mukesh (7/10) is the only one to have picked up five wickets in an innings.

In what has been a pretty low-scoring tournament so far, Nagaland is the only team that has managed to play out the allotted 50 overs. They piled up 177 runs against Bihar, the second highest total in the tournament, but lost the game on the basis of the VJD (Jayadevan) method.

The semi-finals will be played on September 19 with the final scheduled on the 21st at the Alur Cricket Stadium in Bangalore.

One of the reasons for the low scoring could be lack of adequate preparation for the team from the North East. “It is off season here, there was little chance to practice for the boys because of rains,” said Bhattacharjee.

Some of the teams reached Bangalore only a day before the tournament starts. In fact, Sikkim, landed on the morning of the tournament opener. “Connectivity is as an issue, there are no direct flights. The team from Sikkim first have to travel five six hours by road to reach Bagdogra and then take a flight to Kolkata before travelling onwards,” revealed Bhattacharjee, who is also the convener of the cricket body of the North East region.

The last time the tournament was held, Meghalaya finished runners-up to Manipur.

One of the reasons for the low scores could be that the teams are also missing some of their players. BCCI is very strict in age-related matters and these associations were asked to produce proper documents for age verification.

“This time, we couldn’t take some of our good players. The BCCI demanded documents for age proof like Aadhar Card, Passport or voter ID and most of the boys in this region don’t have them, so they had to drop out,” revealed Bhattacharjee.

He is confident that a start has been made and the teams will get well versed in these matters with experience.

At the end of the tournament, the national junior selectors will select a combined team which will compete in the All India Under-19 cricket tournament. A similar format will be followed for the under-16 boys from these six states.

A BCCI official informed: “A one week camp will be held at the National Cricket Academy for the team to prepare them for the main tournament.”