In a disastrous ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers, former U-19 national team skipper Prithu Baskota was one of the performers for Nepali team whose 59 set Nepal on a 160-run crushing defeat of Uganda in the ninth place playoff match. But the 59 was quite expensive for Prithu who was making a comeback in the national team after missing the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers from where Nepal qualified for their maiden World Twenty20.
Prithu collided with Sharad Vesawkar while taking a run during the Uganda game only to discover later that it was the heaviest collision of his life. The collision saw him aggravate the injury he sustained ahead of the World Qualifiers and it was to keep him out of action for seven months so far.
One after another tournaments came and went by, Prithu is still nursing the injury. After receiving a treatment in Australia, Prithu is currently in a recovery process and undergoing self-rehabilitation. If you have forgotten Prithu, then here we are bringing him up close to you. cricketingnepal.com sat with Prithu and talked to the talented all-rounder about his painful experience to sit out of the team and what he thinks ahead of his career. Here are the excerpts:
Q. One after another tournaments came and went by. What were you thinking? Where is your cricket heading towards and when will the old Prithu come back into the game?
A. I am still in a recovery period. The tournaments that I missed were the saddest parts of my career. It was really painful and I wanted my wait to pass soon and make a comeback. It doesn’t give you a good feeling when you play continuously for three years and suddenly an injury keeps you aside. But injuries are also part of the game and sportsmen have to take it. I will complete my recovery after Division-II and eye a comeback in the tournament followed by Division-II.
Q. Is injury the heaviest blow of your life?
A. You can say that, easily.
Q. You might have been keeping close eyes on Division-II as a tournament where you can make a comeback. Certain problems off the field ruled out National Tournament, probably a base to prove your fitness. What are the ways for you to move ahead for you now?
A. Yes. I was waiting for the national tournaments but unfortunately that didn't happen due to certain issues. Hopefully I will wait for the next nearest tournament now and give all my effort to make a comeback in the team. In fact, I have been given more time and there is long gap before we play another international tournament. That would help me to recover.
Q. The national team has seen a lot of changes in a period of seven months. New players have come in and established players have been shown exit doors. Your contemporary Pradeep Airee has no space in the team. How easy or hard is your comeback going to be?
A. The competition obviously has been very tough. And it is a challenge as well. It is a huge confidence boost-up for a player to get the better of others in a competitive selection environment. Its good to see competition in the team. This will motivate a player to do more hard work. If we look at it positively, it’s a good chance as well. If we take it as the adage 'with opportunity comes challenge', it can be a good platform for hard work to be back in the team.
Q. How much ego does an injury develop?
A. It depends how a player takes it and what his point of view is. If a player bogs down, his ego can destroy him. If one takes it positively, obviously it can give a good result.
Q. Once you make a comeback, how are you going to take it ahead?
A. I have been giving 100 per cent and will try to do that every time. It could be different after injury, especially after such a long gap. I have not kept it in my mentality. I have been doing my practices and fitness focus. I will probably focus on giving a good performance.
Q. Division-II is one of the biggest tournaments that will determine our future for the next three years. What are your anticipations?
A. Obviously we have to finish in the top two to be in Division-I. It’s a very good opportunity for us. The chance has come earlier to us and it is good for us. The team is very much balanced. If we gather up and gel up and have all our batsmen in touch then we could expect something.
Q. The time when you were in the national team, you have seen Subash (Khakurel), Paras (Khadka) and Sharad (Vesawkar) being the top major performers. But in Division-III, they didn't shine but we still returned as champions. A good sign or a bad sign for us?
A. It’s a very good sign. Largely for the past two years, the trio has been the key performers for us. They didn't have a bad Division-III but other players came forward and won us the title. It is a huge boost for us ahead of Division-II. Other players have garnered a lot of confidence and this will ease the pressure on the senior players allowing them to play freely. It’s a big positive for us.
Q. New players have been getting chances. What's your opinion?
A. At a time when we are not able to organize national tournaments, we are calling the players in the camp and judging them according to their ability. It’s a good thing to do. Coach is very positive to bring the young players and new talent. So if we have new players and they perform, it is good for Nepali cricket.
Q. What are the changes that you have seen in the national team as an observer?
A. The mentality has changed. Confidence level has gone up especially after playing the World Cup. This is the reason why we have been doing well in recent tournaments. What I feel is the national team is no more dependent on two or three players. Everyone is contributing. From an audience point-of-view, I think the team's confidence has gone higher.