With some outstanding achievements by the Nepali cricketers in the past few years, cricket has been established as a renowned sport in Nepal. The players’ contributions, at both the national as well as international levels, have been remarkable enough to make history in the field of Nepali cricket so much so that the Government of Nepal has also started respecting and prioritising cricket.
Even among the group of talented players, some of the cricketers stand out from the rest, becoming almost synonymous with the term–Nepali cricket.
Below are some top Nepali cricketers promoting Nepal that everyone, cricket fans or not, should know about:
We start with the man, Paras Khadka, former captain of the national cricket team of Nepal. This all-rounder and fascinating cricketer is 6 ft 3 inches tall and is 33 years old. He is a right-hand batsman specialising in right-arm medium and right-arm off-spin bowling. After playing U-15, U-19, and the senior side, he made his first debut in a match against Malaysia in 2004.
He took over the captaincy of the team from 2009 to 2019, where he led and helped Nepal promote their status from Division-V to Division-III. It was under his captaincy that Nepal qualified for 2013 ICC World qualifier, in which Nepal came in the third position. This feat later helped Nepal to appear in the first-ever T-20 World Cup in 2014 as well. In 2019, he also became the first Nepali cricketer to hit his first ODI century. Captain or not, Khadka has always succeeded in uplifting the status of Nepali cricket.
This guy is one of the finest individuals making the country proud globally as an international cricketer from Nepal. Famous for his ‘leg-break bowling’ skills, Sandeep Lamichhane became the first-ever Nepali cricketer to play Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2018 for the Delhi Daredevils. He was one of the most sought after players of the season and his performance was remarkable, turning heads of the global cricket arena towards Nepal.
Prior to IPL 2018, he grabbed the headlines after Australian commentator and former cricketer Michael Clarke sponsored Lamichhane to train at the Australian Cricket Academy and offered to play for the Western Suburbs District Cricket Club in Sydney, Australia. His consistent outstanding performance keeps the cricket fans in awe everywhere, waiting for him to take a series of wickets. He only recently took a century of wickets in the Twenty20 internationals and will soon be appearing in Caribbean Premier League scheduled to start from August 18 in Trinidad and Tobago.
Another profound ‘right-handed’ batsmen from Nepal is Gyanendra Malla. He is the current captain of the national team of Nepal (The Rhinos or Gorkhalis), the successor of Paras Khadka from October 15, 2019. Earlier, he served as the vice-captain of the team for 10+ years, sharing outstanding partnerships with Khadka. He also substituted as the captain for the national team in July 2019 in the rain-affected match against Malaysia in the ICC World T-20 Qualifiers 2019 when Paras had an injury. The match was won by Nepal and Malla was declared as the man of the match for his smart captaincy and half-century in the match.
The first major uplift of his career came after he scored 145 runs in the U-19 World Cup of 2006. He was also one of the 11 players playing the one-day international (ODI) match against the Netherlands on August 1, 2018, which was also his ODI debut. Already an irreplaceable asset for the Nepali cricket, he continues to make various contributions to the history of Nepali cricket.
This Nepali cricketer with an earnest smile is an all-rounder. Shakti Gauchan is considered a legendary icon of Nepali cricket, with a remarkable impression on both the national and international levels. He specialises as a left-arm orthodox spin bowler and right-handed batsman. He became the first Nepali player to register an international hat-trick (wickets), in a match against Denmark in Dubai during the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers.
He also scored 106 runs off 103 balls in the 2005 ICC World Cup Qualifiers, after which he became the second Nepali cricketer to hit the international century. In ICC World Cricket League Division IV 2012, he performed the most prominent, letting only 2 runs and taking 3 wickets with 8 maidens in the spell of 10 overs playing against Malaysia. He has also announced the ‘Man of the Match’ in the ICC World Cup T-20 Qualifiers 2014 for a 3-wicket haul and contributing Nepal to win the match against HK. Sadly, the player announced his retirement in 2018.
Born in the UAE, Sharad Vesawkar is the mainstay batsman of the national cricket team of Nepal. He was fond of cricket since childhood and his strong humbleness and determination led him to become an elegant cricket player in Nepal. His first-ever international match was the 2002 U-15 Asia Cup in the UAE. This was a very special and unforgettable match for him. This is because he saw a major upliftment in his career with this match played in the UAE.
He was one of the best batsmen of the event with a total of 275 runs in 8 matches with remarkable scores of 106 against Qatar and 78 against India. He is the third Nepali cricketer to score an international century with an unbeaten 105 off 134 balls in the 2010 ICC World Cricket League Division Five in a match against Fiji. Besides this, his national and international achievements are countless.
Dipendra Singh Airee
Dipendra Singh Airee (or Dipendra Airee) is a 20-year-old right-handed batsman and right-arm medium bowler. He made his List A debut for Nepal in the ICC World Cricket League Championship 2015/17 in a match against Kenya. He was also the captain of the national team in the Group A ACC U-19 Asia Cup 2017. In that match against India, he was declared the ‘Man of the Match’ scoring 88 runs and taking 4/39.
During the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) tour on 6 November 2019, he made his first-class debut playing against the club. Then, he was made the vice-captain of the team for the ACC Emerging Team Asia Cup 2019. He made his first ODI debut playing the first-ever ODI match against the Netherlands in 2018 World Cup Qualifiers being one of the 11 players from Nepal.
Another inspiring cricketer is 24-year-old Sompal Kami. He is a right-handed batsman and right-arm fast bowler. He made his debut playing against the UAE in the 2014 ICC World Cup Qualifier. In a match against Afghanistan in the series, his bowling speed was measured over 140 km/hr. Talking about his batting, he also set an international record of being the highest-scoring batsman with 40 runs off 31 balls against Hong Kong in the 2014 series.
Kami outshined all in the ACC Premier League 2014, in which he became the first Nepali bowler to take a five-wicket haul in an ODI match for 47 in and against Malaysia. Also, he was declared the best bowler of the tournament after he took a total of 15 wickets. In 2015, he again proved himself and became the leading Nepali wicket-taker in the ICC World Cricket League Division II with 11 wickets in six matches. He took five wickets in the 2014 Asian Games and gave another outstanding five-wicket haul against UAE in the 2019 ODI.