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"Cricket is picking up in Nepal" says Nepal's Subash Khakurel

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Afghanistan v Nepal - ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014
Khakurel was the highest run scorer for Nepal in the 2013 ICC World Cup Qualifier

Subash Kahkurel is a wicket-keeper batsman who plays for Nepal Cricket Team. He was the highest run scorer for Nepal in the 2013 ICC World Cup Qualifier and lead them to the 2014 T20 World Cup.

In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Khakurel talks about his cricketing career and cricketing life in Nepal.

Which particular match/tournament would you like to call as the turning point of your career?

Khakurel: Cricket has always been my passion. I used to play cricket in my school days with my friends during my leisure time. After that, I played for different clubs and academy, which made me more determined and attentive for cricket.

Later, I played in many National and International tournaments. Moreover, I got selected for U-19 National team for the World Cup 2012 Australia which was more challenging and exciting. During that time, the hype and fame was so great that it inspired and encouraged me to play very well. I aspire to give all my effort and get selected for Senior National Team.

Therefore, I consider U-19 World Cup 2012 Australia as the turning point of my career.

You were the highest run scorer for Nepal in the 2013 ICC World Cup Qualifier. Nepal than moved unto to participate in the 2014 ICC T-20 World Cup. How do you want to take this accomplishment?

Khakurel: Playing World Cup is always a dream for any player from associate nations. Getting a chance for us to participate in 2014 ICC T-20 World Cup was like a dream come true. Such a moment is indescribable.

I was obliged with myself for being able to perform in such a vital tournament for my team. It was much satisfying for being able to make my whole nation proud with my batting performance and guide my team and nation to play 2014 ICC T-20 World Cup. Also, this tournament was the highest level match Nepal has ever played.

You were the only batsman from Nepal to score a half-century in the 2012 U-19 World Cup. Your innings was even appreciated by a legend like Wasim Akram. What does his comments mean to you?

Khakurel: It was a prestigious moment for me for getting a comment from a cricket legend. Wasim Akram was a world class bowler during his regime and has taken many wickets.

So, he must know the batsman better than anyone else and still he praised my batting.

Thus, it means a lot to me. It really encouraged me to do better as it made me feel that I possess that quality of finest batsman.

You have been playing international cricket for Nepal from past couple of years now. What changes have you observed in the cricketing atmosphere of Nepal?

Khakurel: There are lots of positive changes in the cricketing atmosphere these days. I see lots of young boys and girls playing and following cricket. We see numerous clubs and academies starting to train youngsters. The fan following has been humongous. Cricket is picking up.

Importantly, the parents are encouraging their children to play and participate in sports especially in cricket which really is a positive sign because that was what we lacked in our childhood days.

Family support will motivate more than anything else. Overall, the cricket in ground level has been more popular, just the thing lacking is our association is to rebuild and capitalize the atmosphere.

Sandeep Lamichhane has performed exceptionally in the Indian Premier League. How did his performance boosted up the entire camp?

Khakurel: We all are very glad with how Sandeep has performed in Indian Premier League (IPL). Firstly, being selected in IPL franchise team was itself an achievement and then performing so brilliantly against such quality players like Kohli, ABD, Suresh Raina was beyond expectation.

He has shown the world that if given chance, we can play high-class cricket. He has raised the hope to all the other players that we can play with world-class players if provided standard practice and training along with good match exposures.

So, his performance has brought lot of optimism in the team. We believe it’s a gateway for other players as more franchised team will be eyeing for players from associate nations in coming years.

How would you analyze your team’s performance in ICC World Cup qualifier which was held in January 2018?

Khakurel: Well, I would like to categorize our team performance into 2 parts in my analysis. Firstly, against associate nations, we were on top and able to win matches both against Hong Kong and PNG. We were good in every aspect of the game and we have been proving our self as best time and again.

On the other hand, we lack consistency in our batting against full members nations (ODI/Test Nation). We have been doing pretty well in bowling department but when it comes to batting there are lots of room to improve and we really can do it and compete if we are given more chances to play at this level.

And I believe it’s not our batting techniques or skills to be blamed towards. It's the experience that our batsman lack at this stage. Overall, our team performance at this qualifier was not totally satisfying, we would have done better.

Our dreams to qualify and play the world cup was scattered but still, we got the ODI status and now will be playing a lot more competitive cricket at a high stage like I-Cup, so this is the good and satisfying outcome of this tournament for us.

There are various cricketers from Nepal who aspire to be a cricketer. What piece of advice would you like to give to them?

Khakurel: To be honest, it is hard to sustain as cricketer in Nepal. Yes, it is a bitter truth even though cricket is so popular and have huge fan base comparing to any other sports in the country. But in recent years, there are more domestic tournaments like EPL, DPL, NPL and PPL (newly proposed tournament) are taking place and they have really provided the financial support to the cricketers.

Well, I’m not demoralizing the youngsters but giving them the clear picture of what reality is and I always insist the new and upcoming player to give their best in everything they do.

Nothing comes without struggle and hard work always pays off. So, keep working hard and give your best and importantly take your academics and playing passion side by side.

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