Four to watch from Nepal

By Dipesh Pandit, follow on twitter @TheJuly23rdd

The recently held Prime Minister’s Cup National Cricket Tournament saw some amazingly talented cricketers coming across different parts of the Nepal. More than 150 cricketers participated in the tournament, with some of them really showing their potential and were also rewarded with a call-up to the national training camp ahead of the ICC CWCL2.

Out of 10 teams participating, three were department teams while seven were provincial sides. The department sides dominated the tournament with all three Tribhuwan Army, Armed Police and Nepal Police making it into the semis and Tribhuwan Army Club clinched the title.

But, the provincial sides showcased some fine prospects who have a high possibility of making a berth to the national squad very soon. Here are four uncapped cricketers who may have a big future ahead of them.

Arjun Kumal -15- (Right Handed Opening Batsman)

The 15-year-old right-handed prodigy from Gandaki Province, Arjun Kumal was born in the Gulmi District of Nepal. He opened the batting for Gandaki in the national cricket tournament and gained instant recognition from everyone for his patience, grit, and determined displays. He attracted cricket lovers right from the first match of the tournament where he scored 36 runs off 54 balls against the mighty Tribhuwan Army Club who later became the champions of the tournament. His cool, calm, and composed innings saw some fine cricketing shots, including an upper-cut against Bikram Sob, resembling almost to Sachin Tendulkar against Brett Lee in Perth 2007.

In his second match of the tournament, he scored 35 off 68 against Province Number One in Mulpani Cricket Ground, the ground which is known often for its difficult batting conditions. Gandaki Province registered a two wicket win that day. At the same venue, he scored 46 off 106 against Karnali Province the following day. He faced 239 balls, the fourth-most in the tournament, scoring 117 runs with an average of 29.25. He has an ability to build the innings, soak the pressure and play exquisite shots as an opener. He is very strong defensively and with his backfoot punch. Kumal has represented Nepal at the age level in the U16 eastern region tournament in Thailand in 2019. He earned his maiden call for the 32-men’s preliminary squad prior to the CWCL2 series. He is the only one to feature in the squad from Gandaki Province.

Bibek Yadav -17- (The finisher)

The 17-year-old Bibek Yadav represented Province Number Two in the recently held PM’s Cup where he was awarded the prestigious Emerging Player of the tournament, scoring 167 runs in four matches with an average of 41.75. He scored two crucial half-centuries against strong provincial opponents Lumbini Province (51) and Bagmati Province (66) and also claimed 6 wickets with the ball. Coming down to bat at number eight against Lumbini, he scored 51 off 49 balls with 3 fours and 3 sixes. Likewise, Batting at number nine against Bagmati, he contributed 66 off 74 balls with 3 fours and 3 sixes for Province Two. He contributed 23.01% of his team’s total runs, batting lower at the middle order. Regarding his style of play, he is a right-handed batsman who has a fantastic ability to play under pressure, rotates the strike well, builds important partnerships for the team, and attacks the bowlers with long and big hits. He guides the team towards the end overs and plays an important role as a finisher.

He is also a right-handed medium pacer and can contribute to the team as a bowler. His team, the Province Two filed to win any of the four matches but his playing intent surprised almost everyone and that earned him a place for the national camp to play against Qatar (which was postponed) and the 32-men’s preliminary squad for the upcoming ICC CWCL2 series against Oman and USA. He had previously represented Nepal at youth ODI level when the Nepal U19 team visited India for the U19 Challengers Trophy in 2019. He has also received several individual awards in various local leagues around his native district Saptari.

Anuj Chanara -16- (Right Arm Medium/Fast Bowler)

Anuj Chanara, the 16-year-old born in the Jajarkot district of Nepal, is a right-arm medium pacer who represented Karnali Province in the national cricket tournament. Karnali Province, which is the least developed province among the 7 of Nepal, gifted Anuj as one of the most promising cricketers who can hopefully excel at the senior level in near future. He took eight wickets with an economy of 4.39 averaging 16.37 in the tournament, and grabbed the eyesight of the selectors, and the coach. He contributed 2/25 in a historic win against Gandaki Province in the League. He is also the only cricketer from Karnali Province who has made the 32-man squad ahead of the ICC CWCL2. He is known for his very disciplined medium-pace bowling and has not represented Nepal at any age level. He comes from a family of very low financial background in Karnali Province that migrated to India in search of job opportunities: “We have a problem finding our daily bread and butter and it is nowhere possible for my family to afford expensive training and kits for my cricketing career.

“However, I asked for my friend’s boots and traveled to Kathmandu for the national tournament”, he reflects on his journey.

His expenses are somehow handled by his nephew Narendra, who helped him to join an academy in Chitwan as he returned back to Nepal while in grade IX. He found a sponsorship worth NRs 15,000 (around USD 130) from Anil Adhikari for his bowling spikes in the closed camp on Monday. Anil coached Team Sauraha Sands under which Anuj Played in the Chitwan Premier League; he is also the treasurer of Bagmati Province Cricket Association.

After receiving his call-up, Anuj said: “I will try to learn as much as I can. I have an opportunity to learn from head coach Dav Whatmore and such an opportunity may not come again.

“I will also try to learn a lot from senior members of the team. Training in a closed camp has been a great opportunity for me.” 

Dev Khanal -20- (Top-order Batsman)

The 20-year-old might not have had his best in the tournament but he has definitely marked his name as one of the most classical batsmen in the tournament. His flamboyant shots towards the cover region would be one of the best scenes you would see and resembles some big names of the game. In the PM Cup’s against the departmental side Nepal Police Club he scored 49-runs missing a deserved half-century in the match on debut. He partnered a 66-run stand for the third wicket with his fellow batsman Sandeep Rajali (40). He played beautiful looking shots against defending champions Nepal Police Club, hitting 7 boundaries. He scored nine runs against Sudur Paschim Province and 26 runs against Bagmati Province in his third match. He could not score big runs to be noticed by everyone but the way he played his short innings in the tournament showed his absolute class.

He has a very strong command towards the cover region and can be groomed further to redefine his talent. He didn’t make the 32-man squad this time but he is definitely has potential if the association keeps its eyes upon him and prepares him to his best.

Binod Pandey, one of the senior-most sports media personalities tweeted praising his flamboyant batting skills. He said: “Dev Khanal has been the revelation in the PM Cup where his solid batting skills have stolen the limelight. He is in a different league and deserves a place on the national side. He is surely going to redefine Nepal Cricket’s batting in near future.”

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