Paras vs Sandeep: How Politics Ruined Nepal Cricket?

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When anyone talks about Nepal cricket, Paras and Sandeep are almost synonymous with that identity. However, at current times, that narrative has turned towards Paras vs Sandeep rivalry.

Paras Khadka is undoubtedly the greatest cricketer Nepal has ever produced. He rose through the age group to the national team circuit very quickly.

A tall all-rounder excelling in both batting and bowling, he has played a crucial part in winning many important games for Nepal in the past. Under his leadership, Nepal played 2014 World T20 and Nepal went from being the Division 5 nation to gaining ODI status.

During his decade-long tenure as a captain, Paras had frequently protested against the CAN and cricket management as a whole.

He along with vice-captain Gyanendra Malla, also boycotted the national tournaments several times as a form of protest against the board. Due to all these factors, there was conflict of interest between Paras Khadka and Cricket Association of Nepal.

CAN was banned by ICC in 2015 citing politics the main reason behind it. After a 4 year long ban, the ban was finally fully uplifted in 2019. Next day of lifting the ban, Paras Khadka informed about his resignment as captain from Nepal cricket team. This move from Paras was symbolic resembling his past relationship with the board.

Rise of Sandeep Lamichhane

Sandeep Lamichhane was spotted by former coach of Nepal Cricket Team, Pubudu Dassanayake while he was playing in Chitwan. He was directly brought into the national team circuit as Nepal team did not had any leg-spinners at that time.

He gave his exceptional performance in 2016 U-19 World Cup which was held in Bangladesh. After that tournament, there was no turning back for Lamichhane. Subsequently, he became the first Nepali player to play IPL, Big Bash, CPL and many T20 leagues around the globe.

Unlike many other players who played for Nepal, he was very individualistic in nature and he stayed away from all the politics between players and the board. This nature of him automatically soured the relationship between him and Paras Khadka. This is where Paras vs Sandeep drama began.

On the other hand, relationship between CAN and Sandeep Lamichhane got better. He was the only player who did not spoke against the board. Even after Paras retired, players like Gyanendra Malla, Dipendra Singh Airee, Sompal Kami, Karan KC etc. were still carrying the legacy of him and continued to speak against CAN.

The conflict between CAN and players aggrevated when players who were close to Paras protested against the salary provision of the board.

In response to player’s protest, CAN punished several players and even snached captaincy role from Gyanendra Malla and vice-captaincy role from Dipendra Singh Airee. CAN gave captaincy role to Sandeep Lamichhane and later made Rohit Paudel vice-captain.

Paras vs Sandeep- Who’s Winning?

There is clearly groupism in the team. Even during matches, you could see one group of players celebrating together on one side and rest of the players celebrating on the other side.

In the battle of Paras vs Sandeep, no matter who is the winner, the loser is always the cricket itself. You can blame groupism being one of the reason behind bad performance of the team. Nepal had very underwhelming outing when they toured USA and Scotland.

Sandeep’s captaincy hasn’t been great either. There clearly seems the lack of maturity when it comes to bowling change and field placements. As a 22 years old, there is still a lot of rooms for improvement for him.

What’s Next?

Nepal still has to play in Namibia against Scotland and host country in CWC League 2 before playing back-to-back home series. The main priority for Nepal team would be to save the ODI status at any cost.

Failing to do so, Nepal would miss out on countless opportunities in future development and growth in cricket. Let’s hope Paras vs Sandeep saga would end right here and we move towards the new era of Nepali cricket.

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