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As the talk was about bailing out CAN, comes a ton from Paras Khadka

Oct 01, 2019 | Cricketingnepal |

In what has been taken as a watershed moment for Nepali cricket, the country's governing body of the sport held its elections bringing in a new leadership under Chatur Bahadur Chand. Under suspension since April 25, 2016 in the pretext of government interference and free and fair elections, Nepali cricket has been in a sticky wicket off the field -- for long.

Until Saturday evening, the Special General Assembly of Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN), formed a new elected central committee under Chatur Bahadur Chand. Under the supervision from International Cricket Council (ICC) representatives, Saturday's election is expected to meet the criteria needed to lift the suspension of CAN when a board meeting of cricket's world body is held on October 13.

In a matter of almost four years, Nepali cricket has suffered a lot with nothing in its possession in domestic cricket except for three franchise Twenty20 competitons organised by private entities and a hastened 50-over cricket tournament run by the government in absence of CAN. Compared to the massive strides taken by Ireland and Afghanistan, Nepali cricket has rather lurched back.

Once upon a time, Nepal were in a global stage when they competed in the Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh – more than five years back.

Being a One Day International nation now, Nepali cricket is in dire need of a guardian for whom channelising the funds from international governing bodies – ICC and the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) – is the second must-to-do while laying a good infrastructure and domestic activity to cash in on the national team's recent exploits seem mandatory.

Following several years of wait and apprehensive circumstances, the special general assembly of CAN has brought that guardian – at least in papers – and will now be tasked to fare according to above expectations. The deadlock was broken and a huge October 13 moment now beckons Nepali cricket.

And then comes a ton from national team skipper Paras Khadka suggesting what is really important in the game that Nepali mass is now gradually embracing as its own.

In a Tri-Nation Series that involves a slumping Zimbabwe, Nepal's most loved athlete smashed the country's first ever Twenty20 International century against hosts Singapore that broke the internet. Formation of a legitimate cricket body was forgotten within hours.  

The 49-ball ton has made the nation proud and raised more hopes on its people that Nepal is up there to perform; a fighting defeat to Zimbabwe is a testament to the seriousness cricketers have show in their understanding of what it means to play for the country.

All Nepali population now cares is basking in the glory that Paras' historic century created. The milestone might be temporary but the historic achievement will etch forever in the memory of whoever has followed cricket since its infancy.

The on-field performance has mattered more to Nepali people who, like cricketers, are fed up with poor handling of the sport so far although a possible reinstatement of the cricket governing body looms. As the social media is flirted by Paras' century, the thumping nine-wicket victory over Singapore, against a team that denied Nepal a place in next month's ICC Twenty20 World Cup Qualifier, is what the mass really won't tend to forget.

Paras has walked a tight rope after leaving out experienced middle order batsman Sharad Vesawkar and veteran left arm spinner Basanta Regmi in the build up to Tri Nation Series and upcoming five-nation Twenty20 Internationals in Oman. In absence of the cricket governing body, he has a role to play in the team selection and that would bring the sole blame on him.

If there are people who have always wanted Paras to perform, there are equally many who want him to fail and now he could once again be up against the Chand-led panel against whom he had fought against. Within hours of getting a new committee, Paras has come up with a performance that stole the day's show suggesting what really matters in Nepali cricket. 

A six in the last ball of the 15th over against Singapore's newly recruited skipper Tim David brought Nepal's first ever Twenty20 International century and a vengeance over them. David, the architect of Singapore's 82-run thrashing of Nepal in July's Asia Qualifier having hammered a 43-ball 77, was the one who had taken all the talking prior to the game.

The Big Bash Leage player had gone on to strike a 44-ball 64 not out on Saturday but was merely recduced to the one bearing the brunt in the second innings. However, the point to prove was not against David or his Singaporean side. The psychological battle was somewhere else and Paras was not the one succumbing to the pressure.

Saturday's newly elected committee in the cricket governing body is almost a repeat to the same body against whom Paras waged a war against that resulted in graft probe followed by the suspension of the CAN. His one failure could have resulted in ridiculing of the most successful athlete of the country – in terms of leadership or performance. But there was a ton to suggest who the king was.

Paras had his say and the onus now will be on the new body led by Chand who has been reiterating that they were not given any opportunity to work. Soon after being elected at the helm of Nepali cricket, Chand furnished some ideas of which he or his faction was clearly unaware of. The previous body seemed clueless that something like franchise Twenty20 cricket could actually exist in Nepal.

"The last four years had been about struggle for us because we were elected and banned. We have to come with the scratch and have discussion to make a strong domestic structure. We want to establish Nepali cricket as an ODI nation and form back up to feed national teams," said Chand.

Chand sounded a novice as he furnished his plans to media soon after he was elected. On the field there was Paras who struck Nepal's maiden Twenty20 International century. So far, there has been a stark contrast on how cricketers operate on the field compared to an inefficient governing body. The cricket governing body has to understand the value of country's maiden ton.


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