Bishal Bikram KC’s character as a proper batsman was adequately defined when he engineered a sensible 71 from 126 deliveries against India A in an Under-19 One Day Challengers Trophy in Hyderabad last year.
That November 14 match saw the Nepali colts capitulate to a strong Indian youth team by 107 runs but not before Bishal Bikram KC – The Batsman – signaling his arrival. His coronation as ‘The Batsman’ could be an early overstatement. However, sticking to the crease to play 126 deliveries in an unknown territory speaks about his talent in volumes.
The Nepali U-19 side were in chase of an imposing 249 as the visitors caved in at 49-6 with humiliation seemingly inevitable. Together with Kushal Malla he stitched a half century stand saving the blues as coach Binod Das’ persistence to keep him for the match paid off.
“In that tour, we only had two individual innings that stood out and his 71 was one of that. He had struggled in earlier matches but we persisted with him as we believed he has the talent. In that particular game, he was in great touch; timing the ball well and hitting the gaps,” Das remembered his innings.
Bishal was not getting talked of for the first time. A man-of-the-series performance in the U-16 National in April that year handed him the captaincy of the Nepali team for the ACC U-16 Eastern Region Tournament the same month in Thailand. He led the team to title and returned with the player-of-the-tournament trophy starring with both bat and ball.
Contrary to his predecessors, Bishal was not among those to receive adulations following the team’s victorious return from Thailand.
Nepal winning an age group tournament in the region has now become a cliché. Gone are the days when a statistically proven brilliance in any age group tournament would invite a victory parade, unless they do wonder, when the team returns home.
As a nation with One Day International status, the demands are high; the stakes even higher.
Nepali cricket in itself is an emerging phrase that has now gradually started to take its grip upon in modern day cricket. The likes of Paras Khadka and Sandeep Lamichhane have inspired a lot of youngsters to take up the sport.
Bishal is among those youngsters, but not among the ones who have barely taken up the game. There is something in Bishal that separates him from others. He is awaited to be a great asset in Nepali cricket.
As a resident from Nepal’s far western district of Bardiya, chances have been far and few for Bishal to continuously get involved in competitive cricket. At his locality in Ward No 8 in Madhuban Municipality, Bishal himself used to assemble a team to play cricket.
Not even four years ago, he led his school team to tennis ball U-16 Inter-school title. His love for the game and desire to excel persuaded his father Jhalak to provide him with better opportunity.
Bishal’s supportive father provided him with abroad training as the teen spent two months of training in Bangalore before moving to Delhi. He learnt the basics of the game in the Indian capital and in between returned to Nepal for selection matches and ultimately making it to the Nepali team for the tournament in Thailand.
“I have been supported very much by father. He did all he can to make me a cricketer, credits Bishal.
The basics learnt in Delhi helped Bishal exhibit his game in the U-16 National. In one of the matches of the tournament in Kathmandu, Bishal slammed 89 runs against eventual champions Province 3. Although his side lost in the final, Bishal had already left a mark.
Following his exploits in the U-16, Bishal has already won himself a place in the U-19 squad, although his one-match appearance in the 2019 ACC U-19 Eastern Region in Malaysia lasted just two deliveries. A confident looking stance at the crease and his stylish maneuvers suggests he is destined for greatness, unless properly guided and nurtured.
“I have been working day and night to improve my cricket,” said Bishal as he is back to his hay days of cricket when he had to assemble boys from his neighbourhood in Madhuban to get some competition because of the Corona Virus lockdown. He, however, knows his own effort is not enough for what he wants to achieve.
“Currently, we only have few days of camp before the tournament and that is never going to help any cricketer who wants to learn. It would be better if we get continuous training and someone who can guide us properly and advice us,” added Bishal who prefers to get his temperament tested through 50-over or multi-day cricket.
Bishal did feature in the senior team of Province 5 in last year’s MM Cup 50-over National. He only remembers that tournament as a bowler after he picked up five wickets against Province 5 with his off spin. He did not make the cut for the Prime Minister Cup One Day National.
“We tend to lose our temperament if we continuously get involved in Twenty20 tournaments. I want to stay calm in the crease. If I have to improve my batting then only 50-over cricket or multi-day tournament will help me. I typically want to bat at the top order and hold the innings, playing longer version of the game will enable me showcasing my batting skills,” he said.
U-19 coach Das doesn’t want a player like Bishal to get distracted. “I feel he is more concerned about other things than just batting. He has good techniques and if he gets his mindset right, I think he can do a lot better, said Das. Bishal is among those very rare talents who have managed to convert their start into big scores.
The fact he is playing a comparatively higher level of Nepali cricket underlines he has already moved a step ahead in the start of his journey. Now, its on him and how Nepal’s cricket shapes in, in coming days that would convert this talent into a star of the future.
BY ANURAG SUBEDI