El Capitano

  • Celebrating 25 movers and shakers who helped shape Nepal over the past 25 years
- Adarsha Dhakal, Kathmandu

Feb 19, 2018-Here are some of the records Paras Khadka currently holds. He is the only Nepali player to have two centuries in List A matches, and is Nepal’s highest run getter in the format. He has also accumulated the most runs in Twenty20 Internationals for the country. And having helmed the national side through arguably its brightest years, he is also Nepali cricket’s most successful captain.

But Khadka’s contribution goes beyond just his on-field heroics. As a beloved and inspiring public persona, he has played a crucial role in cricket becoming Nepal’s most popular sport.

Born into a middle-class family in Kathmandu in 1987, Khadka broke into the limelight early on. He first represented Nepal at the U-15 level, when he played the U-15 Asia Cup in December 2002. He has represented Nepal at every age- group thereafter, playing in three Under-19 World Cups, in 2004, 2006 and 2008, before making his senior debut in 2004 at the tender age of 17. While still a teenager, Khadka was already an established member of the national squad, the captaincy of which he assumed in 2009. 

Under Khadka, Nepali cricket has indeed come a long way. Once languishing in the Division IV in the World Cricket League—the fourth rung of International Cricket Council’s programme for the non-Test playing nations—Khadka has managed to lead Nepal to World Cricket League Championship—a Division 1 tournament.

In a fresh achievement for Nepali cricket, he will now be leading the team in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe where the country will rub shoulders with heavyweights like the West Indies, Afghanistan, Ireland and Zimbabwe. Apart from being a golden opportunity for the country to qualify for the 2019 World Cup, the tournament could possibly become a crucial stepping stone to Nepal gaining the One Day status.

But beyond just being a captain that the entire squad looks up to, Khadka has also served as the ‘conscience’ of Nepali cricket at a time when the country’s governing body continues to remain mired with infighting and shortsightedness. In May 2010, 18 members of the national cricket team, led by Khadka, held a press conference, announcing that they would not play the national league because of the mismanagement within the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN), the country’s governing body for the sport. He again led the second boycott in April 2014, this time demanding a restructuring of CAN and better facilities for players. It was the first time that any captain, from any sport in the country, had vented ire against the working ways of a governing body.

Things, unfortunately, hardly changed but it played a seminal role in bringing cricketers together for the betterment of the game. Former national team skipper and current U-19 head coach Binod Das explains Khadka as vocal person. “He speaks what he thinks and he is very honest. At the time, he had to go against the establishment for the greater good. That is what a captain should do. It is so much more than just leading the squad on the pictch,” Das says. 

— By Adarsha Dhakal

Published: 19-02-2018 13:02

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