From a sports-loving kid to hope of the millions, Paras Khadka has become a product that has so far redefined Nepali cricket. He has not only served the country but also forced families to escort their kids to cricket field, to emulate him.
Courtesy Paras, a sports that once gave nothing is now fetching name, fame. Most importantly, he has worn several hats — batsman, bowler, captain, mentor and role model for Nepal cricket.
Years down the line, when a new generation of fans look back at history, Paras will be remembered as a man who grew up with the game and let it flourish. Leading Nepal to the ICC World Twenty20 and One Day International (ODI) status could be on his portfolio but, on a hindsight, he laid a platform for the generation to come.
Leading by example
As a versatile cricketer, Paras can give you a good start, take the innings through and finish off the matches. He can deliver both spin and medium pace bowling as situation demands. Throughout his career, Paras believed in leading from the front to secure a pathway for others to follow.
In the last decade or more, Paras has single-handedly bailed his team out on multiple occasions. Take Nepal’s maiden ODI triumph by one run against the Netherlands in 2018. He took the matter on his own hands to sensationally defend six runs in the final over and affect a run out exhibiting a brilliant presence of mind.
Be it during the domestic games or internationals, Paras always has his socks pulled up. He is the first and so far the only cricketer from Nepal to smash a century in both, Twenty20 International and One Day International apart from being the first to complete the 1000 List-A runs.
Being a cricketer who comes over as a street-smart player with the capability to brilliantly analyse the game and translate that to his captaincy, ‘leading by example’ has become synonymous to his captaincy.
Always by your side
A captain is more likely to bring the best out of a player if he believes in that particular player. The hidden secret of Khadka’s success is his ability to back his player in all ups and downs.
“It’s not a bad team, it was bad performance and an unfortunate week,” Paras was quick to take the blame when Nepal stunningly failed to make the cut for 2019 ICC World Twenty20 Global Qualifier.
“As a player and the captain, I take the responsibility for the loss,” an emotional Paras said after his team’s poor showing in the Asia Qualifier in Singapore. “When we win, the same set-up looks exceptional and it’s obvious you get criticised when you lose. We have to accept both.”
Paras placed immense trust on people surrounding him, backing them to deliver. This instilled more freedom on his teammates and fear of failure never played around their heard.
“Paras, without a doubt, was the best captain I have ever played under,” Nepal’s unpredictable allrounder Mehboob Alam once said. “You usually need lots of support and trust from your captain in hard times. Paras was always there.”
After a lean patch during the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier, Mehboob had lost his spot in the national side. Later on, he managed to fightback for his place and represented Nepal in the 2014 ACC Premier League, where he took three wickets against the UAE and scored a half-century against Malaysia.
“He inspired me to perform well for Nepal Armed Police Force under him, and scripted my comeback in 2014. He knows how to bring the best out of any player,” Mehboob, the world record holder for single handed bowling out an opponent in a one-day game, recalls.
On the flip side, Paras was heavily criticised for being conservative by not bringing changes to his side despite being mauled sometimes even by teams par to Nepal. But that was how it worked for Paras.
He had put faith in his players and even got repaid. He even put those doubts to bed when a relatively young Nepali side earned the ODI status through the 2018 ICC World Cup Qualifier.
The country’s cricket now is in the final phase of generation hand over, something that no one had expected to see so soon.
An outspoken leader
Paras is outspoken. He speaks when he thinks its wrong. He speaks when he thinks that that wrong was not going to be the right for his team, for cricket overall.
Paras has been the voice of the team on and off the field ever since he led the player’s revolt to boycott the national tournament protesting the working ways of the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN). That rebellion repeated on 2014 when they boycotted the national tournament again, this time citing the wrong doing in the cricket governing body.
Not only the outspoken attitude, the oratory power of the former Nepali captain began joining Nepali cricket to corporate sectors. His lobbying has always been the strongest.
Multiple cricketers are now associated with Nepali cricketers other than the highly established names. Its his initiation that even the emerging youngsters are now bankable.
Invokes respect and fear in opposition camp
By his mere presence, calmness and body language Paras invokes great respect and fear in the opposition camp. In a competitive environment, it takes a great deal to be respected by competitors who would be itching to have you on the other side of the fence.
Paras has outplayed any opposition on his own. He is the most prized wicket for opposition playing against Nepal. On his day, other batting partners can flourish around him by having him on another end.
Former Nepal national cricket team captain Binod Das admires Paras’ ability to read the situation of the match. “The standout quality of Paras is to read the situation of the match and react accordingly,” said Das currently acting as cricket manager of CAN.
“Captains must have a good instinct and his instinct has always been up to mark,” Das concludes. Shakti Gauchan, the longest serving member of the national team, applauses Paras’s ability to create an environment where every single individual felt the sense of responsibility.
“There’s nothing unique about his captaincy. He along with other captains of Nepal, create such an environment where every player realises his responsibility and delivers,” the former spinner said.
- Led the team to 2014 ICC World Twenty20
- Led Nepal to One Day International Status
- Historical ODI win against the Netherlands in 2018, and a series win against the United Arab Emirates in early 2019
- Led Nepal to multiple ICC titles in ICC World Cricket League Division V, IV and III.
- Finishing 9th in the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier
- Poor performance in the 2015 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier
- Stunning defeat in the 2019 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier Asia