Nepal’s exciting new talent Dipendra Singh Airee missed out on winning the Youth Player of the Year under the Pulsar Sports Award after judo’s Manita Shrestha Pradhan took the honour amidst a grand ceremony at Nepal Academy Hall where the current U-19 team cricket captain was an absentee.
Dipendra is among those rare talents of Nepal who has received a widespread media attention because he has performed ever since hitting the mainstream cricket. The best athlete in the ground, Dipendra pounces into the ball with sheer athleticism, looks professional when he bats with a modest-looking batting stance and picks up wickets with his medium pace delivery.
He has set a benchmark for every upcoming player.
Dipendra is the asset in his team irrespective of whichever club he plays with. He was instrumental when Panchakanya Tez won the Everest Premier League (EPL) Twenty20 last year. And under a revamped EPL, he has found himself as a marquee player — an achievement that lined him up alongside the national team veterans.
He is certain to hit a hefty amount standing in as a marquee for the Chitwan Tigers in the EPL and he deserves it. Dipendra finding a place among the veteran marquees is not a mere blessing but his stellar performance on the field has backed it.
In the ACC U-19 Asia Cup match against hosts Sri Lanka, Dipendra was close to giving Nepal their first ever victory against the Test giants in any format or age group game after defying the island nation with the bat. While chasing 228 runs against Sri Lanka, Dipendra kept impressing with his fine stroke play and patience at the same time taking Nepal close to victory.
Just at the threshold of victory, Dipendra was trapped leg before wicket off Praveen Jayawickrama as Nepal fell agonizingly two runs short. The all rounder was down on his knees and couldn’t stop himself from breaking down. Had that ball been caressed past point, Dipendra could have been the architect Nepal’s most famous victory in age group cricket in recent times.
But fate had other ideas. Nepal were folded for 226 all out and eventually lost a place in what could have been their first ever semi-final appearance U-19 Asia Cup participated in by Test giants of the continent. And those two runs might have stole the coveted Youth Player of the Year in Nepal’s most prestigious sports award.
However, Dipendra was always the youth cricketer of the year, a fact that Nepali cricket fraternity needs to be proud of. He has made runs and will continue to win matches for Nepal. It is probably the first time that a young cricketer has been consistently performing with the bat for Nepal; especially at a time when the country’s competition platform has shifted a level up.
Dipendra has been the highest run scorer for Nepal in age group and has gradually been performing for the senior team as well. His debut itself has been a great sign.
After finishing as the second best run scorer in his first rain-affected World Cricket League Championship home game against Kenya, Dipendra combined for a century partnership with Gyanendra Malla in the second match handing Nepal first ever victory against the Kenyans in 50-over cricket.
He was fluent in his 66-ball 62 that saw him smash eight boundaries and confident-looking six. He then continued to impress for the national fold hitting half centuries against Bangladesh U-23 and Hong Kong in the ACC Emerging Teams Cup in Bangladesh. He was also the highest scorer for Nepal in the ICC U-19 World Cup Division 1 Qualifiers for Asia Region in Singapore.
Dipendra’s journey from Far West to Nepal Police Club, from age group to national team and his establishment as a marquee player speaks the volumes of his giant strides in Nepali cricket.
Nepal has seen how fast bowling sensation Sompal Kami established himself into the national team soon after stepping in Nepal. His arrival was followed by that of allrounder Aarif Sheikh and leg spinner Sandeep Lamichhane.
Dipendra is the latest entrant whose arrival suggests talent will continue to knock Nepali cricket’s doors.