Paras Khadka: ‘Cricket has given a new vision to Nepal’

In a chat with Sportstar, the Nepal captain underlines the significance of his team’s One-Day International status and looks at the challenges ahead.

Paras Khadka... “Hopefully, I will be able to contribute to the development of the game, as long as I play cricket.”   -  AFP

After a decade of struggle, Nepal finally attained One-Day International status on Thursday. The recognition may represent a major milestone in the Nepal’s cricketing journey, but captain Paras Khadka believes the challenge has just begun.

Speaking exclusively to Sportstar from Harare on Friday morning, the 30-year-old cricketer acknowledged the significance of the achievement but adopted a tempered tone. According to him, Nepal’s “persistent hard work and determination” has paid off.

Excerpts

Q. First of all, congratulations on attaining the ODI status! As the captain of Nepal and one of the major architects of the team’s success, how do you see this journey?

A. The whole journey has been fabulous. In 2008, we started in the ICC Division Five; since then, we have been fighting. From Division Five to Division Four, to Division One and now the ODI status — it has been a long journey. As a team, we just wanted to reach where we are today. It involves years and years of hard work and a lot of sacrifices. I am glad that we have finally been able to reach here.

It took Nepal a decade to get an ODI status. How tough was the journey?

To be honest, challenges are still there. We just have one ground back home, [and a] very limited domestic cricket structure. The training facility also requires facelift. Besides that, all of us have come from age ranks like U-15 [and] U-17; we managed to play U-19 World Cup but despite that there [aren’t] many things back home. We still love playing cricket. Our love and passion for the game has pushed us to all levels. If we start doing well on cricket field, things will improve for me. Now that we have attained ODI status, we will put up a proper structure. That will definitely help Nepal cricket.

Being an ODI team, what would be the immediate challenges that need to be addressed?

Setting up a domestic structure is the biggest challenge. How well we can we take our team forward is another area we need to look at. Getting an ODI status is okay but we have to think about a proper structure in the next four years. There has to be regular cricket all across the country and we have to involve people. There [have] to be good teams, good tournaments — that’s [what] we can look forward to.

Read: When Kunderan's 16 captivated a boy of seven!

Apart from you, most of the cricketers in the team are quite young. How crucial was this ODI status for the younger generation cricketers of Nepal?

This will definitely encourage youngsters. Our team is anyway young. For people back home, cricket is really a big thing now. There are lot of youngsters who want to become cricketers. If we manage to set up a structure, then I am sure a lot of kids will want to play and represent their country. Cricket has given a new vision to the country, where you can dream and battle all odds. It is important that we carry this momentum. Reaching somewhere is fine, but [the] most important thing is to stabilise the process. For that, we need everyone to come forward and start this whole new journey.

Who would you owe this success to?

Everyone has been involved in the process; especially the players [and] the coaches. The players before us sacrificed a lot, and we managed to keep it going to reach this level. It is persistent hard work and determination that has paid off.

Read: Prem Bhatia, India's famous 12th man, passes away

Nepal cricket came to the forefront in January, when Sandeep Lamichhane was picked by Delhi Daredevils for the Indian Premier League. How do you see Sandeep’s rise?

That’s a big boost. Sandeep has now set a benchmark for everyone by getting a place in the IPL, which is the highest you can reach. Lot of parents would now be excited to send their kids to cricket for this. The last few months have been really good for Nepal cricket. The results have shown. With good performances on [the] field, you can inspire a lot of people.

As you said, it has been a challenging journey. Is there one memory you would like to forget today?

Well, we play this game because we all love this game. There [have] been lot of ups and downs, we have lost matches. But I am not thinking about those moments now. The fact that we manage to play cricket is a big thing. Hopefully, I will be able to contribute to the development of the game, as long as I play cricket.

What is the way ahead for Nepal cricket?

Hopefully, we will have a proper schedule now. We have domestic tournaments back home, and that’s about it for now.