T20 leagues, Umesh Patwal, and successful debutants in international cricket

Published On: February 6, 2019 09:53 AM NPT By: Rajan Shah

KATHMANDU, Feb 6: Nepal national cricket team arrived home on Monday after being triumphant in both One-Day International (ODI) and Twenty20 International (T20I) series against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at ICC Academy in Dubai, UAE. Nepal won both three-match series 2-1, after losing the first match of each series. 

Skipper Paras Khadka’s century, Sompal Kami’s five-wicket-haul and other senior players' contributions were crucial for Nepal's success in the ODI series. However, youngsters eclipsed seniors in the following T20I series. The 20-over format is known as young players’ format and the Nepali debutants excelled in it.

The cricket team has seen multiple debutants in the last two years during its transition. Shakti Gauchan’s retirement, Sharad Vesawkar’s injury and Basant Regmi’s fading form has allowed more young players to make their case for permanent spots in the national team. 

From Dilip Nath’s heroics in ICC World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia to Sundeep Jora’s record-breaking half-century in T20I series against the UAE, youngsters has been common denominator for Nepal’s recent success in international cricket, which spans from earning ODI status in Zimbabwe to the first series win in the UAE.

Skipper Khadka has been vocal in appreciating the contribution of young players for the wins. He firmly believes that healthy competition among the players is good news for national team. Pawan Sarraf played in different positions and situations for Nepal throughout the series, Jora was highest run scorer in T20I leg whereas Avinash Bohora was adjudged player of the series. 

The 17-year-old Jora became youngest half-centurion in T20Is after scoring an unbeaten 53 runs in his debut innings for Nepal. Jora credited the batting conditions in Dubai and batting coach Umesh Patwal’s inputs for good form with bat. "It was better than I expected. The conditions were better for batting in Dubai than here in Kathmandu. And our respected batting coach Umesh Patwal also helped a lot."

Similarly, he was quick to brush off the tag of 'T20-specialist', which some people ascribe to him.  He wished to do well for Nepal in ODIs as well if the there was an opportunity. "I would love to play ODI cricket as well. As much as I can keep doing well and get that opportunity I would like to contribute for the ODI team as well."

The all-round talent of Sarraf was also aptly explored by the national team on his debut stint when he was given a different role in each match. However, the return numbers didn’t do justice to his talents. “I am happy for my debut of the national team but the performances could have been better. I would like to improve on that part.” 

Sarraf is equally good bowler but it wasn’t required much. “I didn’t get to bowl much but I really want to contribute with the ball as well if opportunity arises.”

Likewise, it has been a matter of debate if the three ICC-sanctioned premier T20 leagues back home have been helpful for cricketers for a smooth debut in international arena. 

“We were really confident to do well in T20 series since we have been playing that, not only us debutants but whole team” said Sarraf.

Similarly, Bohora, the new Yorker-specialist, scalped 6 wickets in three matches overshadowing experienced pacers like Sompal Kami or Mohammad Naveed in the T20I series. He also credited the importance of domestic T20 leagues. “It was little difficult to adjust at the beginning. But as we are playing plenty of competitive T20 matches back at home it was all about hitting right rhythm once you start putting it in the right places.”

He further added the importance of coach Patwal who has been helping every player working on their respective specializations and roles for the playing XI. “Even when I was not playing ODIs, I continuously delivered 35-40 balls each day under the guidance of Umesh (Patwal) Sir.”

The 21-year-old, despite taking international cricket like duck to water, was not satisfied with his performance and wished to improve further. “I am not satisfied with my performance. Seriously, I feel I haven’t done enough. I believe I can contribute more. I want to do better."


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