Paras Khadka, the 31-year-old Nepal allrounder, has resigned from his role as team captain after nearly ten years at the helm. He made his decision public through social media one day after the ICC restored Nepal’s membership.
Khadka was the longest serving captain in Associate cricket, having been in the role since November 2009. At the time, Nepal were in Division Five of the World Cricket League. But starting with victory on home soil over USA in the final of Division Five in 2010, he led Nepal on their gradual rise to ODI status, finally achieved at the World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe in 2018.
For the majority of his decade in charge, Khadka was the most reliable batsman in Nepal’s line-up, providing the backbone at No. 3 and 4. He was just as valuable as an offspinner, though he sometimes bowled medium pace when Nepal were lacking for genuine seamers. Another major achievement during his reign was leading Nepal to their first ever major global event at the senior level when they clinched a berth in the 2014 T20 World Cup in Bangladesh. Nepal scored victories over Hong Kong and Afghanistan in the opening round but fell short of advancing to the main draw as Bangladesh moved ahead on the net run-rate tiebreaker with both teams at 2-1.
More recently, in January 2019, Khadka led Nepal to their first-ever ODI series win, against UAE, where he became the first man from his country to score an ODI century. In September 2019, he also became the first Nepal batsman to score a T20I century, against Singapore.
Sandeep Lamichhane, the Nepal legspinner who began his career under Khadka and is now much sought-after in various T20 leagues, paid tribute to his captain via a tweet: “Starting the journey under your captainship, we’ve reached places Nepal cricket had never been able to before. You’ve inspired so many youths including me in the past years and given us all more reason to love this beautiful game. Best wishes for your future endeavors. And we’d all love to see you representing Nepal for as many years as possible! You truly are a legend that has made a huge mark on all of our hearts. Here’s to you Captain! The Legend Daju”
Although Nepal’s readmission comes on a conditional basis, it is a move towards the right direction as they are once again eligible for ICC funding. They were suspended in 2016 for breach of ICC regulations that prohibit government interference while also requiring “free and fair elections”. Following the election of a 17-member central working committee for the Cricket Association of Nepal earlier this month, the ICC readmitted the Nepalese board. A transition plan for Nepal’s full reinstatement will now be developed.
On Monday, ICC Chairman Shashank Manohar had said: “Given the progress made in Nepal, a transition plan will now be developed for the Cricket Association of Nepal to support full compliance with Associate Membership criteria, which will also involve controlled funding.”