Dipendra Singh Airee 2.0, his tattoos, and his comeback in the Nepal cricket

Dipendra Singh Airee - Nepal cricket team
Dipendra Singh Airee during a match of the tri-nation series against PNG and Malaysia in April 2022. Photo: Bikash Shrestha

The tattoo on the left arm of star cricketer Dipendra Singh Airee reads ‘Never give up.’ He inked the tattoo in 2016, after returning from the U-19 World Cup. Airee has a philosophy that one should never give up while representing the nation.  

He has witnessed many ups and downs of the Nepali men’s senior cricket team in the last five years while being a key player in it.  Airee was the vice-captain for the national team for two years (November 2019-December 2021) and has always enjoyed cricket. When he was stripped of the vice-captaincy after a serious row, he felt quite low, perhaps the lowest of the past few years. He almost gave up.  

“The mental pressure then was much bigger than we used to have during the matches,” says Airee. “At once, I had thought that this was the end of my career.”

Dipendra Singh Airee's left-arm tattoo. Photo: Bikash Shrestha
Dipendra Singh Airee’s left-arm tattoo. Photo: Bikash Shrestha

But, wait, never give up. In the recent tri-nation series that Nepal played against Papua New Guinea and Malaysia recently, Dipendra Singh Airee testified to his tattoo with his impressive comeback. 

Playing with the dispute 

The dispute was initiated after the four players of the team exhibited disappointment in the player’s grading. Following the incident, CAN, the national cricket governing body, took action against all those players.  

The cricket governing body removed Gyanendra Malla from the position of the captain and Dipendra Singh Airee from that of the vice-captain. Likewise, along with the duo, they also cancelled the central contract of Sompal Kami and Kamal Singh Airee for six months. 

At that time, Dipendra Singh Airee was almost about to quit. Showing the disagreement with CAN’s decision to take action against the players, the other contemporary players also warned of stepping down from the game. But, stakeholders put pressure on the disputing sides to pursue reconciliation. After weeks, both sides withdraw and the dispute ended. 

File image: Dipendra Singh Airee
File image: Dipendra Singh Airee

As the date of the T20 World Cup Qualifier was approaching close, the cricketers returned to the closed camp. Airee was not sure about continuing cricket even when he was in the closed camp. But, he had a strong belief that one should give their best on the field while playing for the nation.

“The other young contemporaries like Kushal Bhurtel, Rohit Paudel, and so on who were in support of us had still a long career so for them as well, we decided to continue the game,” says Airee. 

Hence, this time, for the tri-nation series, the team decided to play impactfully. 

Maybe the positive ego helped them move forward. Bhurtel, Paudel and all others played very well. They played remarkably well in T20 World Cup Qualifiers against UAE and Papua New Guinea. Similarly, they also did very well in their homeland during the tri-nation series against Malaysia and PNG. 

Playing beyond the dispute

Dipendra Singh Airee during a match of the tri-nation series against PNG and Malaysia in April 2022. Photo: Bikash Shrestha
Dipendra Singh Airee during a match of the tri-nation series against PNG and Malaysia in April 2022. Photo: Bikash Shrestha

Kamal Singh Airee did impactful bowling whereas Rohit Paudel, Kushal Bhurtel, and Dipendra Singh Airee celebrated their first centuries in the recent event. Dipendra Singh Airee’s performance during the tri-nation T20 series took Nepal to win the series

Likewise, in the event, he completed 1000 runs in T20 international matches. He scored 1,033 runs in 39 matches and 34 innings.  Prior to Airee, no other Nepali cricketers had done so. 

Dipendra Singh Airee, who made his debut in 2017 during ICC World Cup League Championship against Kenya is now the senior member of the team. In the latest tri-nation series, as the former captain Gyanendra Malla and Binod Bhandari were not in the team, the Nepali team entirely relied on youngsters

Captain Sandeep Lamichhane, Sompal Kami, and Dipendra Singh Airee were in charge of looking over the team of youngsters. Airee successfully justified his role. He was named the player of the series. 

Now, Airee has moved on from the dispute and is committed to giving the best in all the upcoming matches. 

Dipendra Singh Airee's right-arm tattoo
Dipendra Singh Airee’s right-arm tattoo

Meanwhile, the tattoo on his right arm lists the dates of the milestones of his cricket career. Airee says he wants to add one more row there–with the date when Nepal will qualify for the World Cup. Airee knows his role in that journey because the list tattooed is titled ‘If not now, when?’ 

Every time Dipendra Singh Airee enters the playing field, he looks at both of his arms and makes himself ready to not disappoint the resolutions. 

This story was translated from the original Nepali version and edited for clarity and length.

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Timalsina was a sports journalist at Onlinekhabar.

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Nepal is a sports correspondent for Onlinekhabar.

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