Cricket will keep its fingers crossed when the Nepal Sports Journalists Forum will give away the Pulsar Sports Award on Tuesday amidst a grand ceremony at the Nepal Academy Hall.
Cricket was the only sport last year that gave the country a lot of respect and most importantly pride by winning two major tournaments — ICC World Cricket League Division-IV in September and ACC Trophy Elite a month later.
Five cricket personalities have been nominated in four different categories with flamboyant national team skipper Paras Khadka primed for Player of the Year (Male).
Paras’ teammate Basanta Regmi will leave selectors with a lot to ponder following his fine performance throughout the year. Paras has also been nominated in the Popular Player of the Year category. The Popular Player of the Year will be decided through the SMS voting and facebook likes contestants have recieved.
Giving a breathtaking performance with both bat and ball, Paras was adjudged the man-of-the-series when Nepal won their first ever ACC Trophy Elite in Dubai and in the ACC Twenty20 Cup — a tournament where Nepal entered the final for the first time at their home soil in April.
Basanta was the cornerstone in Nepal’s successful international journey last year that begun with Division-IV triumph in Malaysia. Basanta took 21 wickets in Malaysia becoming the leading wicket taker in a tournament for the senior national team. He also picked up 10 wickets each during ACC Trophy Elite and ACC Twenty20 Cup.
Nepal Police Club sprinter Tilak Ram Tharu, national team footballer Bharat Khawas and karateka Sunil Lama are the other nominees in the category.
In the Popular category, Paras will have to face a stiff competition from wushu player Jharana Gurung, athlete Keshari Chaudhary, footballer Jagjit Shrestha and swimmer Sirish Gurung.
National team coach Pubudu Dassanayake will pose a strong contention for the Coach of the Year award. Dassanayake — a man who came forward with the successful concept of National Cricket Academy — is the unsung hero of Nepal’s success last year.
National cricketers have credited Dassanayake in the team’s transformation and the winning ability that has now developed. Dassanayake will get the challenge from wushu coach Yubaraj Gurung, Wangden Lama of swimming, Akbar Shah of karate and Nar Bahadur Shahi of athletics.
U-16 cricketer Akash Bista is the fifth nomination for cricket as Youth Player of the Year in the most coveted and reputed Sports Award of the country given by the umbrella organisation of Nepalese sports journalists. A man-of-the-series in the ACC U-16 Tournament, Akash had shine with an allround performance that included 109 runs and 17 wickets from six matches.
Ratnajit Tamang of Badminton, Sirish Gurung of swimming, Chahana Bomjan Lama of wushu and Niru Thapa of football are other nominees in the Youth category.
Cricket has no nominations in the Player of the Year (Female) with karateka Ganga Devi Adhikari, footballers Jamuna Gurung and Anu Lama, swimmer Shreya Dhital and Jharana tipped for the award.