Emotional Shakti bids adieu to cricket

- Adarsha Dhakal, Kathmandu

Dec 16, 2018-

Nepali cricket team’s longest-serving member Shakti Gauchan on Saturday bid farewell to cricket as the veteran left arm spinner retired from all forms of the game amidst emotional scenes at the Tribhuvan University grounds.

Gauchan had already retired from international cricket in July this year and had said the ongoing Everest Premier League was going to be his swansong in domestic cricket. In front of almost 10,000 crowd that repeatedly chanted his name when his Pokhara Rhinos teammates carried him in the shoulders for a final lap of honour, the ever-smiling Gauchan was unable to hold his tears back waving back towards his supporters emotionally.

The 34-year old closed his eyes and looked into the sky in deep emotions when his teammates and opponent players gave a guard of honour. “I think this guard of honour and love from the spectators is the result of my honest contribution to the country and loyalty to the game. The emotions in the ground (while receiving the guard of honour and cheers from the crowd) was something which I cannot express in words. This moment is unforgettable for any player and it will etch in my memories for lifetime,” Gauchan told media where he held back his emotions.

Having made his debut with the senior national team in 2002 ACC Trophy against Oman, Gauchan brings curtain down to an 18-year long active playing career that grew concurrently with Nepali cricket. Gauchan said he was destined to serve Nepali cricket.

“When the national anthem was played while I was playing for Nepal for the first time during the 2001 ACC U-17 Youth Asia Cup in Bangladesh, my inner soul had said you are born for Nepal and have to do something for your country. Cricket is the only thing that will direct you. 18 years down the line, the love that I have earned from cricket is something that I am very proud of,” he added.

As a cricketer who came from India, Gauchan had initially started his career as an opening batsman and became the first player to score 1000 runs for the senior team. He is the third Nepali cricketer to take 100 wickets after his contemporaries Mehboob Alam and Basanta Regmi. After captaining the U-17 team in the U-17 Asia Cup, Gauchan went on to lead the U-19 team and scored centuries for both the youth and senior sides.

He is also the first cricketer to score century for Nepal in the World Cricket League structure which he did against Italy in 2005 Division 2 Qualifier. Shakti played nine Twenty20 Internationals for Nepal picking up eight wickets. He had 18 wickets in List A and 32 in Twenty20s. He has a total of five wickets in the First Class matches.

As Nepal started making strides in world cricket under Pubudu Dassanayake, Gauchan continued to become the integral part of the team although the coach ignored him for the 2011 ACC Twenty20. Shakti forged comeback for next year’s ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers at the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The UAE Qualifiers turned pivotal in his career after he took a hat-trick against Denmark becoming the only male player to achieve the feat in the country’s cricket history. While his iconic footballer-like celebration in UAE was fondly accepted in media, the impressive bowling performance earned him a call-up for a brief training camp at the Indian Premier League side Rajasthan Royals.

His reputation as a spinner further grew after he bowled world cricket legend Rahul Dravid at the nets and earned praise for him in front of some of the stars of the game. Gauchan also played a key role in Nepal’s maiden, and so far only, appearance in the ICC World Twenty20—in 2014 in Bangladesh. In a display of impressive performance from the entire team in World Twenty20, Gauchan went on to receive special treatment from former Pakistani cricketer-turned commentator Ramiz Raja who famously called him “Shakti The Power” when Nepal played against Hong Kong in a match where Gauchan took 3-9 from four overs and returned with man-of-the-match honour.

It was the ICC World Twenty20 which made Gauchan’s career memorable. “Singing the national anthem during the World Twenty20 and playing at the Lord’s will be memorable for me. I will always miss the ground where I have played and of course being with the national team,” Gauchan said adding he will now prepare for his second innings of cricket.

“My innings as a player has now ended. I know I have to move on now and life is going to take a new turn. My mission now is to help Nepal play the 50-over World Cup and the prime target is to elevate country into a Test nation if I get support from everyone. Its tough but we should not stop dreaming because that is how we played Twenty20 World Cup,” he said.

Gauchan was the captain of the Rhinos last season but made way for Scottish captain Kyle Coetzer this edition. Although Gauchan has lost his wicket-taking abilities of his prime, he still managed to end up being economical taking 2-132 from 18.5 overs. Coetzer decided to hand Gauchan the first over in his final act as Rhinos set forth to defend a below-par 129.

“When I came to bowl at the start of the innings, I realised that these overs were going to be my last. I thought of giving the best,” Gauchan said. But it was the same Gauchan who has always thought of being a miser when he is bowling.   

“Well, it might sound like a joke but when I came to ball the final ball, I was thinking of not being hit for a four or a six,” Gauchan said to amuse the mediapersons.

Published: 16-12-2018 08:58

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