Gulshan Jha was nowhere around before the 17-year-old appeared with a towering figure in Nepal’s iconic TU ground donning the Nepal Police Club jersey. His fourth ball in domestic cricket caught more attention than his 6 feet 2 inch appearance.
Khadak Bohora was expected to see out Gulshan with an ease but had no answer to the youngster’s rising delivery that also gathered pace after it was pitched on the good length area. Khadak was picked opener of the combined Kathmandu Mayor’s XI for Mayor’s Cup Championship because he had a decent outing for Sudur Paschim Province in the preceding Prime Minister’s Cup.
Hailing from an average family of Sarlahi, right-handed fast bowler Gulshan though ended up wicketless in his debut national match that lasted six overs, his raw pace, extra bounce and late swing were about to wreak havoc.
His best, arguably one of the best from a debutant fast bowler in domestic cricket, came in the final. In the morning conditions that favoured fast bowlers, his swing and bounce left an experienced Nepal APF Club top order clueless as Shankar Rana, Sharad Vesawkar and Bhuwan Karki were all caught behind the stumps to quick short balls.
His figures of 4-36 from seven overs ultimately had APF bundled out for a paltry 105 in 29.4 overs. NPC claimed the title and Gulshan was the man-of-the-match.
“Taking the wicket of Sharad Vesawkar was a different feeling which I cannot sum up in words. He is an absolute legend. I was just hoping that I impressed him,” Gulshan revealed about his most memorable moment from Mayor’s Cup.
Gulshan’s humble background
Born and raised in Malangwa municipality of Sarlahi, Gulshan comes from a humble background as his family not among the well-to-do people in their area. His father makes end meet as a manager at a nearby brick kiln.
He studied in a government school and played cricket in his free time in the village grounds with other children.
His cricket bloomed after his parents sent him to Ranchi, India, for further education soon after he finished Grade VIII. He lived with his father’s friend in Ranchi where he managed to get four years of quality cricket training under Arun Vidyarthi — a former Ranji player with Jharkhand.
“I got to know the real taste of professional cricket in India. Arun sir trained and help to bring the best out of me,” Gulshan said.
COVID-19 breaks Gulshan into domestic set-up
As the first wave of COVID-19 gripped India, Gulshan returned to Nepal. As luck would have it, his talents were discovered by Madhav Karmacharya, preisdent of the Sarhali District Cricket Association and central committee member with Cricket Association of Nepal.
Gulshan owes his career to Madhav, other than to his parents. Madhav spotted the speedster immense flair in the locality. Gulshan started to play for Sarlahi in the local tournament and performed exceptionally well.
He was unfortunate to miss out on the Province 2 squad for the Prime Minister Cup. In hindsight, Gulshan represents the talents who are ignored during their trials.
Gutted by the snub, Karmacharya took Gulshan to Kathmandu requesting Police team management to rope him into their side. The Policemen were missing the services of left arm seamer Lalit Bhandari. They kept a close eye on him and assured of a call-up whenever they needed.
NPC coach Manoj Katwal was quick enough to pick this exciting talent after few practice matches ahead of the Mayor’s Cup.
Karmacharya was elated at the VIP stand when Gulshan ratted the APF batting line-up in the final. “This is the proudest moment for me. He is the future star of Nepal cricket and a proof that even the rural parts of Nepal are never short of talent,” Karmacharya said.
Madhav has saved videos of Gulsan’s bowling spells on his mobile and watches them at least once a day. “Watching his videos still gives me goosebumps,” he added.
It might be impractical to draw any conclusion by watching Gulshan bowl 13 overs in Nepal’s competitive cricket. But his exceptional introduction has given excitement to all the fans and stakeholders alike.
He currently reisdes in Kathmandu training at the Nexus Cricket Academy and now awaits another opportunity to prove his mettle.
Guslhan was raw but a surprise package in the Mayor’s Cup. To excel further and take his career to higher level through limited opportunities in domestic cricket, a big challenge lies ahead of him.
The early indications of his career show that he is among those rare talents who need to be kept under a system that nurtures and hones skills. Gulshan has pace but his tender age demands proper grooming to make sure he brings variations, and consistency at the same time.
Under a circumstance of obscurity, Gulshan has popped up into the fray through a brief opportunity. But it could just be a glimpse of bright future in Nepali cricket.