A tireless servant of Nepalese cricket, Paras Khadka has been the companion of his country’s most popular sport from the time they were still an unknown entity, continuing its march toward acceptance in broader cricketing ambit. Caught at Point maps the achievement of the former captain in a career, which spans over two decades.
On the morning of August 3, 2021, Nepal Cricket fans’ heart sank in despair as their hero and arguably the country’s first star in cricket, Paras Khadka announced retirement. Was this in the offing? Did the fans have any idea that the day would come all too sudden? For the rest of the cricket fraternity, this might not be a monstrous news, especially that media platform, whose sole job is to chase TRPs furnishing unbearable sports journalism. Though, for Nepal, the former captain holds high regard and commands great respect of fellow sportspersons and countrymen.
Paras Khadka was only 15-year-old when he started his career in 2002. It was a time when Nepal was trying to build a structure for cricket in a country that often looked to an India or Pakistan for inspiration and noted achievers. To understand the achievements that Nepal has gone to achieve post-2002, we have to understand where they stood prior.
It might not be wrong to credit the Rana Dynasty for introducing cricket to Nepal way back in 1920. In 1946, the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) came into being, which became the governing body of their much-loved sport in the country. Notwithstanding being such an old organisation vis-a-vis some of their counterparts in Asia, cricket could not develop in Nepal at a pace at it was expected. One aspect which it adopted from its peer was muddling sports with politics.
The venerable ICC announced Nepal as an affiliate member in 1988. This was no ordinary moment; greater things lay ahead.
Nepal got affiliation from Asian Cricket Council (ACC) in 1990, post which it became a full member in 1994, a ground breaking year for Test Cricket, in particular, given Brian Lara went past Sir Gary Sobers’s 365 to ace a 375, the highest-individual Test score.
However, the real growth of the country’s cricket excelled from 2002 onwards when Paras Khadka and some talented players started their careers.
Imagine the longevity, patience and sheer effort that might have gone in constructing a career that’s reached a full stop but not before two long decades.
The first major achievement for Nepal was ending up as runners-up in 2002 ACC (Asian Cricket Council) Trophy.
A 16-year-old, Paras Khadka made his first-class debut in April 2004 against Malaysia. In 2010, Nepal Senior Men’s team won the World Cricket League (WCL) Five in 2010 beating USA in the finals.
It was clear. Nepal cricket was growing, and Paras was a central figure in this rise that everyone warmed up to. In 2011, when much of the world’s interest was glued to the ICC Cricket World Cup, Sri Lanka’s former international Pubudu Dassanayake was appointed as the head coach of National Team.
Yet another step in the right direction.
This led to a rapid rise of Nepal cricket; within three years they played their first T20I against Hong Kong in the qualifying round of the T20 World Cup.
Paras Khadka become the first international captain of Nepal Cricket as he led the team to a historic victory.
By now, he shared as close a bond as also responsibility of shouldering Nepalese cricket as the lead actor in a commercial potboiler that has it all- romance and adventure.
Khadka and Dassanayake were hailed as heroes, but the ever-selfless Paras Khadka gave all the credit to his coach, exclaiming, “We knew there were big opportunities ahead of us, but we didn’t know how to get there exactly. Pubudu sir came and showed us the way.”
This was the moment which soared the popularity of cricket in the country and made the gritty right-hander who batted up the order a household name.
Four years later, Nepal played their maiden One Day International against The Netherlands, wherein Khadka was again the captain. While Nepal lost the match, there was huge satisfaction on his face as getting an ODI status was major achievement for him and the country he took pride in representing.
Thus far, he has scored 799 runs from 33 T20Is at an average of 27.55 and 315 runs in 10 ODIs at an average of 35.00 over.
While to any number-cruncher, this would seem not that great a return, the key thing is to note the involvement of a young man who gave everything to the case of spurring Nepalese cricket to great heights, representing Nepal if too few opportunities that came along the way.
While the next generation is often tasked with growing a legacy forward, our first thoughts must rest with those who were deeply involved in creating this legacy.
And on that count, Paras Khadka’s name shall always be intrepidly involved in being around when the foremost steps were instituted in giving shape and structure to Nepalese cricket. Someone who saw it all from keen eyes and later, went on to shoulder the leadership role.
It’s not hard to see, in both formats he has been the country’s highest scorer. He is also the first from his country to score a hundred in both T20 Internationals and One Day Internationals.
No mean achievement from a team that’s yet to become regular headlining material in international cricket- right?
Despite of all his achievements, Paras Khadka’s contribution to Nepal Cricket goes beyond numbers. For there’s life beyond numbers, one that can be measured through rich passion and ceaseless devotion.
From a young teenager to becoming a senior figurehead in his country’s cricket, Paras Khadka has been an idol for young cricketers who aspire to wear the Nepal’s national cap one day.
Today as the likes of Nepal’s women’s captain Rubina Chhetri and company would look back, rising forces on whose shoulder rests the responsibility of taking cricket forward, they can glad that sport in the country was shouldered by a selfless son in Paras Khadka.
He has been a tireless servant of his country, never surrounded by any controversy and playing only with sole aim to take Nepal Cricket higher. Even on the day of his retirement, he only wished that Nepal has a better cricketing system which could utilise the talent that the country has.
Some Facts About Paras Khadka
- Paras Khadka played made his debut in First Class in April 2004 as Sixteen and half year old.
- Paras represented Nepal in three U19 World Cup in 2004,2006 and 2008 a duration when he was also part of senior team
- He captained Nepal from 2009 to 2019, one of the longest tenures in Asian Cricket
- Khadka was the Man of the Tournament in the Under-19 ACC Trophy in 2007.
- He led Nepal in their first ever T20 I against Hong Kong in 2014.
- He was also Nepal’s first ever 50 Over Captain, a feat which he achieved in 2018 against Netherlands.
- At the age of 33 years, he retires as highest scorer for Nepal in both T20I and One Day Internationals.