As part of the ongoing celebrations in Bhutan to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of India’s Independence, the Embassy of India in Thimphu instituted an annual Bhutan-India Friendship Cricket Series this year to foster people-to-people ties between the two friendly countries.
The first edition of the series was held at the India House Estate ground on August 30, where team Ambassador’s XI comprising players from the Embassy of India and Bhutan Women’s National Team played a friendly T20 cricket match against team President’s XI comprising players from Bhutan’s Men’s National Team, Women’s National Team and officials from the Bhutan Cricket Council Board.
The Chief Guest for the event was Foreign Minister Tandi Dorji, the Guest of Honour was the Chief Operations Officer, Lt. General Batoo Tshering. The match also was attended by members of the diplomatic community, press corps and prominent Bhutanese from various walks of life.
The first friendly match was telecast live by the Bhutan Broadcasting Service (BBS) on its channel BBS 2. The match was also livestreamed on the BBS YouTube and Facebook pages to enable audiences from India to witness the match virtually.
The winning team took home the India at 75 Cricket Cup and the top players such as the Player of the Match, Best Batsman and Best Bowler won cash prizes.
Bhutan has made giant strides in its journey as a cricketing nation. Bhutan played its first international game in Kathmandu in a tri-series against Maldives and Nepal in 2003. In 2004, Bhutan won its first international match by beating Iran in the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Trophy. Bhutan’s Men’s National Team won their first major title in the 2018 ACC T20 Tournament in Thailand. In 2008, the Women’s Team played its first international tournament in Thailand. In 2010, the Women’s U-19 team were the finalists in the ACC U-19 championship held in Singapore.
It is estimated that more than 45,000 people play cricket across 12 districts in Bhutan and the game is one of the fastest growing sports in Bhutan.
As India and Bhutan share an excellent bilateral relationship grounded in mutual trust and affection, the Indian Embassy in Thimphu had also offered its ground to Bhutan’s Women’s Cricket Team for their training sessions as a special gesture of friendship on August 2.
Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj said, “We are indeed delighted to weave in the cricket story as part of the India@75 narrative, through a celebration of sporting links, in this case cricket, a passion in India, and an almost equal passion in Bhutan.”
Kinley Yonten from Thimphu