National team’s explosive batsman Pradeep Airee had a bittersweet debut with the Nepal APF Club in the ongoing Pepsi Standard Chartered National Twenty20 Cricket Tournament on Friday.
In APF’s match against Region No 2 (Birgunj) at the Pulchowk Engineering College grounds, Pradeep batted at the No 3 position and lost his wicket to Ram Naresh Giri caught by Bikram Basnet. His wicket came just after Ram Naresh delivered five wides. His bitter experience with the bat, however, ended on the team’s sweet 76-run victory as Birgunj were folded for 72-8 in a chase of 149 runs.
Pradeep – tipped as the opener for the national team during the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers to be held in November at the UAE – had changed his mind in the last moment in joining APF from Nepal Army Club. Nepal Army Club are set to make their debut in national cricket with a match against Region No 1 (Biratnagar) on Monday.
Pradeep’s entry into the APF is the departmental team’s effort to bolster its squad, said coach Raju Basnyat. “With three of my players injured, I asked Pradeep to join us and he accepted. We were in a need of an aggressive batsman like him,” said Basnyat whose team has been unbeaten for the last two years in domestic cricket.
APF are once again the title contenders with a star-studded side that is led by national team skipper Paras Khadka. Other national team members in the APF side include Gyanendra Malla, Subash Khakurel, Sanjam Regmi, Basanta Regmi, Shakti Gauchan, Amrit Bhattarai, Prithu Baskota and Bhuwan Karki.
Prithu has already been ruled out of cricket for at least six months following his knee injury, while Sanjam and fast bowler Yagya Man Kumal are also sustaining injury. Among the three new APF entrants, Yagya Man is yet to make his debut.
Bhuwan already has a successful debut for APF with the current U-19 skipper picking up four wickets from the two matches in the National Twenty20.