Kathmandu- The last time Nepal U19 won a major trophy at Asian level was in 2007, when Nepal’s current skipper Paras Khadka led Nepal to conquer the ACC U-19 Elite Cup 2007 for the fourth consecutive time, which till now remains a record at Asian level for an associate team to win the trophy maximum number of the times.
Nepal U19, back then were regarded as the giants of youth cricket both at Asian and International level because of theirs exceptional achievement at the ACC trophies and ICC U19 World Cup. Between 2000-2012, Nepal had participated in six under U19 World cups and defeated the Test nation’s youth squad in as many as six occasions.
Once a flourishing entity, Nepal’s youth cricket has been losing its charm and it has been 8 years Nepal have remained trophyless at Asian level. The last time Nepal won an ACC trophy was back in 2007, then played by the golden batch of cricketers including Gyanendra Malla, Sharad Veswakar, Amrit Bhattarai, Rahul BK and led by Paras Khadka. Those were the golden history written by a patch of brilliant players who’re now taking the senior team to the next level.
However, the golden history is fading away and the question at the moment is: Can the current U19 boys led by Raju Rijal win the ACC U19 Preimer Trophy 2015 and bring the history back?
The task is certainly difficult, but it is not that the boys can’t do that. The preparation might have been filthy due to the CAN’s improper management as always. But, if these boys can’t win the competition this time, it might take another generation of youth cricketers long years to win the trophy again, mainly because most of the team member represented the U19 back a year back in the same competition and Nepal U19 scored hefty runs against all oppositions except Afghanistan, whom they scored just 136 runs in 50 overs and then went to surrender both the match and the tournament.
Skipper Raju Rijal and Aarif Sheikh are already big names in Nepal cricket, having played for the senior team with equally good domestic records, Dipendra Airee can hit the ball a long way, Sunil Dhamala Rajbir Singh and Shankar Rana possess the classics that a proper batsman need, Saurav Khanal, Sushil Kandel and Yogendra Khanal, anyone can fulfill the role of a perfect all-rounder, Prem Tamang a wicket taking spinner, and Deepesh Shrestha, Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi fierce fast bowlers- no one could expect for a more better team. Moreover, this team possess lots of experience.
Apart from host Malaysia and Afghanistan, we can expect other teams not to trouble Nepal U19 much. Afghan U19, similar to their senior team plays attacking cricket. Nepal U19 somehow matched that scoring tons of runs against opposition in previous edition.
This time too Nepal U19’s coach Jagat Tamata focusses on playing attacking cricket. “First, we need to score runs on the board,” he said to Cricnepal on the eve of their departure. “We had a good preparation, we have a balance team, we are hopeful of playing good cricket and win the competition,” he further said.
The head coach is aware of the fact that Nepal’s youth cricket is losing its charm and he believes his team can bring the legacy back.
Cricket has been the only source of joy for troublesome Nepal for the past few years. At bad times, this sport particularly has been uniting its people, bringing smile on their faces. At a time when the country is at massive movement regarding the constitution, for another time we can expect these lads to do the same. Half of the squad including Skipper Raju Rijal, Sunil Dhamala, Dipendra Airee, Prem Tamang, Sandeep Sunar, Yogendra Karki, and Lalit Rajbanshi come from Kailali, and Baitadi where the movement is at extremity. One more time, we can expect these lads to unite our people.
Squad- Raju Rijal (C), Aarif Sheikh, Ashish Dhami, Shankar Rana, Prem Tamang, Saurabh Khanal, Sandeep Sunar, Yogendra Karki, Sushil Kandel, Sunil Dhamala, Deepesh Shrestha, Dipendra Airee, Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi, and Rajbir Singh.