Veteran left arm orthodox spinner Shakti Gauchan completed his father's final death rites, drove hours from home-town Bhairahawa after just five hours of sleep and took to the field one hour following his arrival in tournament venue to show-up for the fourth SPA Cup semi-final.
There is still more to narrate from the 32-year old national team member's story from the first day in Nepal's biggest cash prize tournament that has gripped the city of cricket – Dhangadhi.
As he delivered his first ball of the tournament and that too in a high voltage match against a star-studded Pentagon side, Pentagon were already three down for 46 in chase of New Horizon's 155 all out from 19.5 overs.
Up against Shakti was Binod Bhandari – the man who had tormented the bowlers in previous two games with explosive half centuries. Pentagon were pinning their hopes on Bhandari before a short-delivery from Shakti changed the complexion of the game.
Bhandari was already committed to the shot and in his customary stride, planted a long front foot towards the ball losing the proper connection and holing out a catch at deep mid-wicket to Rahul Prajapati. The big fish was caught in the net. The celebrations began as Shakti runs down a long way pointing his fingers up in the sky. New Horizon won the match by 44 runs to enter the final.
The day was written by Shakti who carried a message with the dismissal of Bhandari. He carried a message that every athlete in the country needs to follow and displayed a benchmark of dedication that everyone needs to emulate.
The last one month had been devastating for Shakti. For the aficionados of Nepali cricket who always cherish to see the peculiar smile in his diamond-shaped face, it’s hard to anticipate the pain he had gone through when his 74-year old father went to a coma after a road mishap. But Shakti was there for the country.
While his father was struggling for his life at the hospital bed, thousands miles away, Shakti was serving for the country in the Division-II tournament in Namibia. He was focused to bring glory back home that would see Nepali cricket turn a new chapter. A chapter that would shape the future of numerous cricketers who have been spending the golden days of their life in a sport that the country loves the most.
The mission was accomplished. The national team headed back home with a place in the World Cricket League Championship but the pain was still there. Three days after the bliss of the achievement, Shakti's father passed away. And the man who has been loved for the peculiar smile was pictured with tears in his eyes giving fire to his father.
But life goes on. Shakti has overcome the pain. He is ready to hit the grounds again, skid the ball, fox the batsmen, pick up the wickets and run miles in celebration. His skills are there for the disposal.
Everyone who turned up at the grounds for the SPA Cup semi-final, loved the first-ball dismissal off Bhandari from Shakti. They loved the smile back in Shakti's face, the wicket that he took and the distance he covered in celebration. That is Shakti. That is dedication.