KATHMANDU: To the eyes of a layman, national team skipper Paras Khadka might have hit a jackpot by earning a call from Canadian first division side Ontario Cricket Academy and Club (OCA) but in total it has rejuvenated the entire Nepali cricket a long time after the glory days of Under-19 World Cups.Nepali cricket had hit the world headlines when the U-19 teams produced shock results — defeating cricketing giants like South Africa, Pakistan and Bangladesh apart from lifting the Plate Championship in 2006 getting better of New Zealand. But after missing out on a place in 2010 U-19 World Cup, cricket needed a rejuvenating factor — which ultimately came from Paras.Paras — a backbone of Nepal’s middle order — was called by the OCA for this season’s first division league after his clinical performance in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in the United Arab Emirates.
With veteran left-arm spinner Shakti Gauchan’s much-hyped trial with the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Rajasthan Royals and Paras’ soon-to-be inclusion in the Canadian professional league, Nepali cricket is hinting at travelling beyond its own perimetres.
“It can be called a new beginning but not enduring as well,” Paras says as the 24-year old prepares himself for Canada tour after getting the visa approval. “I don’t think there will be any dramatic changes in Nepali cricket with my Canada call. The coach (Pubudu Dassanayake) has set a target to keep us busy even during monsoon and I am going according to our plans. The bottom line is that I am avoiding this monsoon by playing in Canada,” said the modest skipper. More than anyone else, Nepal owe much to Paras for the country’s impressive seventh-place finish in the Twenty20 Qualifier. Nepal had headed for the UAE as a bottom-ranked (16th) team in March 13-24 qualifiers. A circumspect Paras, realising World Twenty20 berth target as a far cry, had set a modest target of entering the knock out stage before leaving for the event. Though Nepal failed to achieve that least-desired target, the team was lauded for not only crushing some of the top ranked teams but also coming out of the meekness in the Twenty20 format.
It was during the Qualifier where Paras impressed many eyes after being listed in the Best-XI for his three half centuries combining for 254 runs and seven wickets. However, his own successful story doesn’t indulge the cricketer himself. “It is not only about Shakti and me. Almost everyone in the current squad have the ability to play at a bigger stage and get professional experience.”“We have just begun from the scratch and heading towards a perfect direction,” adds the skipper.Though Paras is nonchalant about his achievement, Nepali cricket is definitely moving towards a right direction which can now pave way for other aspiring cricketers. National team coach Dassanayake is said to be in talks with some other professional leagues and with Paras and Shakti already hitting headlines, a bigger stage is beckoning Nepal, provided the cricketers perform.