Interview with PARAS KHADKA: LEADING FROM THE FRONT
Posted by Prabin the सोभित on आइतवार, फ्रेवुअरी 17, 2008
(This interveiw is Copied from ACC site)
Paras Khadka, 20, is Nepal’s captain in the forthcoming U/19 World Cup. The World Cup souvenir program says Paras is “arguably good enough to be in the line-up of any of the Test-playing countries.” A member of the side which has beaten South Africa and New Zealand in previous U19 World Cups, he is set to become an indispensable element in the Nepal senior set-up. He leads from the front with bat and ball and was a most gracious interviewee over coffee in Kathmandu.
How old were you when you first picked up a cricket bat?
I vaguely remember picking up interest when I was about six or seven. Even at school, people used to play on Saturdays and since I stayed so close to school, I would come back after classes and take my gear and head back to school to play. And when I was very young, I remember carving out these small bats from wood so I could play.
|Role model: Binod Das|
Was your family a sporting one?
Yes very much. My dad and my entire family were very supportive of my cricket and never pushed me to do things I didn’t want to.
How do you balance school and cricket?
At times it tends to get to you especially when there’s a tournament and exams are held simultaneously but luckily for me there haven’t been too many of those instances. It is difficult but you’ve got to choose certain subjects that don’t take too much of your time.
I actually started playing cricket early and got through at the inter-school level. There was a selection process where players are picked from the inter-school for the regional team to play for any of the five regions. After this, the top twenty players are taken to a training camp and in this camp, the national side is selected.
Was cricket popular when you first started playing?
Yes it was. Cricket started picking up pace after the 2002 Under-19 World Cup where Nepal beat teams like New Zealand, Pakistan and Bangladesh. After that at there was a huge hype and I became a big fan of Binod Das the U-19 captain. I hoped and wished that one day I’d be able to play at the Tribhuvan University stadium and by God’s grace I made it a year later and since then I haven’t looked back.
You play both cricket and basketball. Which do you like most?
Cricket had given me so much but basketball is played extensively during the cricketing off-season. All of my friends are into the game and basketball also helps me maintain my fitness levels when I’m not playing cricket.
In terms of fitness, which sport requires more, cricket or basketball?
I feel it works both ways since both the games are technically very different from one another. But basketball and cricket require loads of stamina and playing both games is a great way to build it.
Are there any special fitness regimes you undergo?
Not really. There is minimal gym work. I don’t, we don’t, really have access to any gyms.
Have you always been an all-round sportsman?
Yes I have. I actually tried for the national football trials. I tried when I was in the Grade 8 but I didn’t like the whole system. I was very much into sports and as I said earlier, I spent hours after school playing games.
What is it about cricket that you like more than football?
I think I love the whole pressure situations. Like when there are ten runs to win from one over, it’s an absolute thrill. We’ve been in that situation and we’ve won some and lost some. In football it’s just not the same and if you watched the World Twenty20 final one would see that cricket is completely unpredictable.
Have you ever faced a bowler who was too fast for you?
Defintely! When we went to Sri Lanka, we played against development squads and the boys there are pretty quick. Here bowlers are of an average speed but there it’s so much faster and at first there was no way to play them but I think the more you play, the more you adapt to the pace.
What’s your strategy for coping with fast bowling?
You’ve got to have good hand-eye co-ordination. At whatever level you play, you should adapt to the game and its pace. This is very important. The more you play the better it is for the individual. If you face fast bowling, the first couple of times you might get out for nought but then when you keep practicing, you automatically adapt.
What age were you when you first played for the U-19 national squad?
I think I was around sixteen, in 2003 in Pakistan. It was the Asia Cup. The first Under-19 World Cup I played was in Bangladesh in 2004 where we defeated South Africa.
What was the secret to beating a Test-playing nation?
We knew we had to put up a decent score on the board against them. Their wickets started falling very quickly. It seemed like whatever we did worked so I guess it was just our day. Our target was close to 150 and it was just a matter of staying at the crease because the run-rate never caused us too many problems. By the last over we needed six runs. The number eleven batsman was Shashi Kesari and South Africa thought he, being a tail-ender couldn’t bat that well, so the fielders closed in. But Shashi played a superb on-drive which won us the match. We basically went crazy after that, ran onto the field, hugged them and took the stumps. There were South African players who were in tears and just couldn’t come to terms with losing to a country like Nepal.
What about the 2006 Plate Final against New Zealand?
That was like a miracle and I still get goose bumps when I think back to that match. We were chasing two hundred plus and I was the sixth wicket to fall and we were 75-6. I thought it was over, The asking rate was about six. Basant Regmi and Prem Chaudhary were at the crease and they slowly accumulated runs and in the last ten overs, we needed about seventy runs and those two were still batting. Basant played a superb innings and he eventually was the Man of the Match.
The last over we needed just four runs with one wicket remaining and Ratan Rauniyar and Raj Shrestha were batting. New Zealand had only three fielders in the circle and the very first ball nearly led to a run out but they completed the run and now only three runs remained. With only three fielders in the circle a no-ball was called and the next ball Ratan cut the ball for 4 and it all happened again – the running onto the field and celebrating. It was a truly sensational match.
What is your favorite cricketing shot?
I enjoy playing the on-drive and I execute it very well but if I had to pick one favourite shot, it would be the back-foot punch.
What’s the difference between playing on Nepali pitches and the ones abroad?
Well, the pitches abroad skid a lot as compared to the ones at home. But at the moment most of our away matches are played in Malaysia and everyone has gotten accustomed to the pitches and the conditions there.
How well do you think you’ll do in U/19 World Cup 2008?
We’re not in the easiest of groups with Sri Lanka and Australia and Penang is new to us too, but we’re confident of being able to put up a good show. The Plate’s a target and to win that we’re going to have to beat at least one Test-playing side for sure.
Looking to your career after the Under-19 World Cup, how long do you see yourself being a cricketer?
I think the World Cricket League Division 5 which is in Jersey will decide the future of most of the guys in the team. For the guys in the U-19 team, it isn’t too much of a worry but for the more senior players in the squad, it is vital to win and carry on. For me – I can carry on playing for a couple more years but it ultimately depends on my luck. I feel luck has a lot to do with a player’s career and there are so many hard-working cricketers out there. But the luck is with those who are successful.
I have just finished my plus-two, which is the eleventh and twelfth standard where I had taken science but I think now I will be shifting to commerce. I just started my bachelor’s degree a week ago.
What do you see yourself doing after you graduate?
Most likely, I’ll be doing an MBA. I’m very interested in architectural engineering because I really love the idea of it.
Do you think you could be a cricketer for another decade or so?
Like I said, my parents have always been supportive and I can only hope for a better future but it all depends on my luck but that’s all we can do, hope.
Do you have any sponsorship deals?
As of now, not yet. After our 2006 Under-19 World Cup Plate win, we were each given motorbikes. Binod Das and Shakti Gauchan do have a sponsorship deal with a noodles company but Nepal is still not too ‘brand conscious’. But we as players have formed a Player’s Association two weeks ago. Our main concern deals would with three E’s: Education, Employment and Endorsement. These are the objectives where we look into the player’s benefits.
Who are your role models as cricketers?
I don’t really have any. But there are certain people who have that something extra special like Adam Gilchrist. I’m a big Australian cricket fan. Other players who I admire are Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar who both produce magic when they bat.
How do you spend your spare time?
I’m very normal. Its college in the morning then back home for lunch and then I’m out with my friends.
Cricket-wise, it was in the recently concluded ACC Twenty20 where I was hit for 22 runs in an over against Qatar. That was very hard for me to digest because we lost that game. They needed 24 runs from two overs and I gave away 22 which basically handed the match to them. I was completely devastated after that game. But I bounced back in our final game of the tournament where Oman needed 6 runs from the last over and I was bowling. I took three wickets and that was the first time I think I had heard of anyone becoming the Man of the Match for his performance in just one over. That is how cricket is, the ups and downs come at such a pace that you just need to keep looking ahead and playing your own game.
And how do you cope with Twenty20 cricket?
The format emphasizes one’s skill and how quickly you adapt because there is no time to settle. It is all about doing the best you can, as fast as you can and that requires tremendous skill and focus. I feel watching Twenty20 is more enjoyable than playing it simply because when you play you have to be more than a 100% into the game.
Do you to try hitting every ball for a boundary?
I don’t think anyone can hit every ball for a four or a six but one can certainly try, right?
What is the domestic cricket scene in Nepal?
Domestic cricket really needs to be upgraded. The senior team has to be focused on. Our age-group levels have been performing well and it’s high time the senior team put up some good results. I mentioned earlier about having luck on your side when you play the games and when similar situations at the age-group level and senior level arise, it is the juniors who get on top of most situations whereas the seniors just don’t have that little luck to see them through.
What effect has Roy Diashad on you and the team?
Almost all of us are not afraid of our parents but are afraid of him. This is the impact he has on us and he’s like a Godfather to us in cricket. He understands the situations we’re in and knows every single player inside-out, our weaknesses and strengths, attitude and things like that.
What’s his training regime?
We do all the drills. There are a lot of fielding and batting drills and hand-eye co-ordination exercises. Being such a great batsman, he goes into the technical aspects of batting. When he first came in 2002, I heard that Roy Dias scrutinizes even your batting grip and so I practiced picking the bat up so that I maintain that ‘V’ shape which is so simple and yet so technically vital in maintaining that good grip.
No, there’s no real restraint. As long as you get the basics and are comfortable and can perform he’s OK. In Twenty20, it’s about scoring runs and so if you can bat its good, but in Test cricket you need to stay and play. Mr. Dias gives us the information and helps us understand it and use it to the best of each individual’s capability.
At the ACC U-19 Elite Cup, after Aakash Gupta hits three spanking boundaries off his first three deliveries and then gets out playing an over-ambitious shot; on returning to the dressing room he bowed to Roy Dias. Was this customary or just the fear of Roy Dias?
Well, it’s not about being scared. It was a bad shot that got him dismissed and after hitting three well-placed boundaries, it makes it worse when you get out to a shot like that. The margin for error is very minute and you’re either a hero or a zero, which Aakash proved to be both in a short span. Maybe he was a little scared. It’s something like being scolded by one’s parents when you fail your exam and it’s the same with our Coach. He’s always going to be there when you make that mistake to correct you to ensure you minimize the errors.
Now that you’ve got so far, captain of the U-19’s; do you see yourself being the national captain soon?
I don’t really aim at that target. I’m just happy enough representing the nation and bringing glory to it whichever way I can. As long as I can play and perform, that will give me more pleasure. Of course being a captain is a huge honour for anyone to lead a country but as a player right now, I am only looking to contribute to the best of my ability and potential.
Do you find the U-19 captaincy challenging or enjoyable?
It is very enjoyable. I think people judge captains too excessively. If a team is strong, then the captain has his job much easier. Clever captaincy comes in when the captain reads the game and the situation and brings on a certain bowler or changes the field setting but the players too need to take a certain amount of responsibility.
Does a personal performance bring more satisfaction than a team performance?
Like I said, as long as I can contribute to the team I am happy. I’m not looking for centuries in every game but I am looking to win every game and that is what is more important.
Do you think there’s a lot more talent outside Kathmandu waiting to be discovered?
Of course. There are always hidden treasures. The bowler Dhirendra Chand was one of them. He never went through the age-group levels but went straight to the senior squad. There have been quite a few players from Biratnagar and Nepalgunj as well. If we strengthen our domestic structure we can definitely source out this kind of talent instead of wasting it.
At the age-group levels, Nepal are consistent champions but at the senior level they struggle. Is there only a certain limit to how far Nepal can go?
No, definitely not. Match practice is very important. Our senior players should constantly be involved in the game but our domestic cricket hardly shows any activity throughout the year. Getting as many quality matches as possible under our belts is the only way we can better ourselves. We do have the technique and the skills but we can’t really put it out 100% on the field. Mr. Dias has helped us to a large extent and I’m sure we can only grow from strength to strength.
With a lot of improving teams like Singapore, Hong Kong and Afghanistan, how will Nepal deal with this stronger competition?
We definitely have the talent. We may need a little more exposure but we can get to the level of these countries quickly enough. Once we get to the level, it is going to be all about acclimatizing ourselves. We need the match practice. The senior team just plays about ten matches in Nepal and so the more we play by inviting teams over or by traveling to other places, the better we’re going to get as a team.
For that we need to work way above our limits to match the quality of these players. If we can play against teams that are at that high a level constantly, we will raise the standards of our own game. We may not win all the matches but we certainly improve a lot. That’s all I can say about this.