24 September, Kathmandu
Nepal’s journey in the world of cricket has been a tale of dedication and steady progress. As they prepare for the upcoming Asian Games, one aspect of their game that’s generating excitement is their batting lineup, which appears to be in formidable shape. With six talented batsmen in the squad, Nepal is poised to make a strong impact on the Asian stage. These cricketers – Kushal Bhurtel, Aasif Sheikh, Rohit Paudel, Kushal Malla, Binod Bhandari, and Dipendra Singh Airee – bring a diverse range of skills and experiences to the team, making it a well-rounded and dynamic unit.
In the world of T20 cricket, scoring runs swiftly and efficiently is paramount. One key metric to gauge a batsman’s prowess in this format is the sum of their average and strike rate, with an ideal benchmark exceeding 155. Let’s delve into the profiles of these batsmen to see how they measure up.
Rohit Paudel (Captain)
Rohit Paudel, the youthful and promising talent, will lead the side in this Asian Games campaign. While he has made a name for himself in One Day Internationals (ODIs), his T20I record is yet to reach similar heights. With just 20 innings under his belt, he has accumulated 376 runs at an average of 20.88 and a strike rate of 116.77. These numbers fall short of the ideal 155 benchmark, with a sum of 137.65. Rohit’s best performances often come when he walks in at number 3, where he strikes at 143.13. The Asian Games and the T20 World Cup Qualifiers present a significant challenge for Rohit, both as a batsman and as a captain. To lead Nepal to glory, he will need to elevate his T20I game.
Kushal Bhurtel has rapidly risen to prominence as Nepal’s premier T20I batsman. In a relatively short career, he has displayed a commendable strike rate of 129.34 and an impressive average of 47.75. Bhurtel consistently delivers in T20I cricket, boasting five fifties and a century in just 16 innings. His knack for finding the boundary is evident with 79 boundaries to his name in those 16 innings. Bhurtel promises to bring fireworks to the tournament, navigating the challenge of the short boundaries in Hangzhou, China, with flair.
Aasif Sheikh, Bhurtel’s opening partner, is celebrated for his technical prowess. With 468 runs in 20 innings, including two fifties, he has demonstrated his ability to anchor an innings. Averaging 24.63 and striking at 121.24, Aasif has been a dependable figure at the top. While his performance away from home shows room for improvement, this tournament could serve as a breakthrough opportunity for him in T20I cricket, potentially propelling him to the next level.
Kushal Malla, a destructive middle-order batsman, has tallied 183 runs in 13 innings. While his average stands at 20.33, his impressive strike rate of 144 underscores his ability to accelerate when needed. Malla’s versatility is evident in his batting positions, ranging from opening to the seventh spot in just 13 innings. However, he seems to thrive when batting at number 4. Expect exciting T20 batting showcases from this budding talent.
Dipendra Singh Airee
Dipendra Singh Airee holds the distinction of being the most experienced T20I batsman in Nepal’s lineup, boasting the highest run tally (1108) for his country in this format. Airee averages 35.58 and strikes at a rate of 132.25, primarily occupying the 4th and 5th positions and finishing games for Nepal. His record showcases five fifties and one century, highlighting his importance in the middle order. Airee is poised to play a pivotal role in Nepal’s quest for success in the tournament.
Binod Bhandari, the senior statesman of the team, faces the challenge of revitalizing his T20I career. With just 319 runs in 27 innings, an average of 15.95, and a strike rate of 109.24, Bhandari’s numbers leave room for improvement. Despite typically batting in the middle order, his strike rate falls short of contemporary T20 requirements for his position. The management’s faith in him reflects their belief in his abilities, but Bhandari must adapt to the demands of modern T20 cricket to extend his international journey in this format.
As Nepal readies itself for the Asian Games, these batsmen hold the key to their success. With their diverse skills and experiences, they aim to set the stage ablaze and make a mark on the Asian cricketing landscape.