Paras Khadka    Getty Images
Paras Khadka Getty Images

Born October 24, 1987, Paras Khadka is the current captain of the Nepal cricket team. A right-handed batsman, a right-arm medium-fast bowler and an occasional off break bowler, Khadka made his First-Class debut at the young age of 16 and has since been an important figure in Nepal cricket. While playing the three Under-19 World Cups in 2004, 2006 and 2008, Khadka simultaneously remained a key member of the senior team too.

The man of firsts, Khadka became his team s first captain and also took the first international wicket for his side. Currently, he enjoys massive following and demi-god-like status in his country Nepal, where he is treated like an icon. On his 29th birthday, Chinmay Jawalekar looks at a few lesser-known things about the Nepali star.

1. Early life: Like any other young boy in South Asia, Khadka s introduction to cricket came early, when as a child he would play the game all year round, non-stop. During and after school, at home, everywhere; he spent majority of his childhood playing cricket. He was lucky that his entire family was very supportive of his cricket and never pushed him to do things he did not want to.

2. Wanted to be an engineer and MBA: Khadka wanted to study architectural engineering, but could not pursue the degree due to a lack of time, a story published in Wisden India in 2015 reported. He completed his plus-two, which is the eleventh and twelfth standard, with science as the major subject. He also aspired to do MBA.

3. Tribhuvan University Stadium: Cricket started picking up pace in the tiny Himalayan nation after the 2002 Under-19 World Cup where Nepal beat heavyweights like New Zealand and Pakistan besides Bangladesh. A young Khadka, only 14 then, became a big fan of then U-19 captain Binod Das and started harbouring dreams of emulating him. He hoped and wished that one day he would be able to play at the Tribhuvan University stadium and he did make it to the place a year later, and has never looked back since.

4. Basketball: Apart from cricket, Khadka also had a liking for basket ball right from his childhood. He still extensively plays the game during the cricketing off-season along with all his friends. He believes it helps him maintain his fitness levels when he is not playing cricket.

5. …And football too: Khadka has, from the beginning, been an all-round sportsperson. Cricket, basketball and football have always been a part of his life. Being a grade 8 student, he even tried for the national football trials, but left the game as he became serious about cricket. Apparently, it was the thrill and unpredictability of cricket that made him switch to the sport.

6. Nepal colours: Khadka first donned the Nepal jersey when he was picked for the Nepal Under-15 team to play in the Under-15 Asia Cup in the United Arab Emirates, December 2002. He played for the Nepal Under-19s the following year.

7. Under-19 World Cups: Khadka went on to represent Nepal in three Under-19 World Cups in 2004, 2006 and 2008. In those three editions, world cricket witnessed a rise in Nepal s stature and Khadka played a key role in it. In those three tournaments, he combined played 17 games and picked 23 wickets at 18.60 apiece. In the 13 batting opportunities, he got 274 runs at an average of 22.83. Nepal s achievements during these tournaments were winning the Plate Championship beating a Test playing New Zealand in 2006 edition s final and beating South Africa in 2004.

8. Earned a motorbike: After the 2006 Under-19 World Cup Plate win, each player of the Nepali side was given a motorbike. Khadka too got one.

9. Led Nepal on their international debut: When Nepal played their maiden international game during the 2014 edition of the ICC World T20 against Hong Kong, Khadka led his side, thus becoming country s first-ever international captain. He led from the front too, scoring 37-ball 41 and picking up a wicket in team s historic 80-run win.

10. Interesting record: In that match, Khadka bowled the first ball of Hong Kong innings, effectively also the first ever ball bowled by a Nepali cricketer in international cricket. Interestingly, he dismissed the Hong Kong opener Irfan Ahmed on that ball by getting him caught behind. He thus became the 10th player in T20I history to take wicket on the first ball of career.

Nepal: Young intern working hard to script permanent status in cricket
Nepal: Young intern working hard to script permanent status in cricket

16. Rankings: In ICC T20I batsman s rankings, the highest position Khadka has ever taken is 58, which he held in 2015.

17. Achievements: In 2012, Khadka became the sixth Nepali cricketer to score an international century, when he hit an unbeaten 106 off 77 balls against Kuwait during the 2012 ACC Trophy Elite. Under his captaincy, Nepal have won the 2010 ICC World Cricket League Division Five in Nepal, 2012 ICC World Cricket League Division Four in Malaysia, 2012 ACC Trophy Elite in UAE, 2013 ICC World Cricket League Division Three in Bermuda, 2014 ICC World Cricket League Division Three in Malaysia, participated in the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh and gained the T20I status.

Though he is happy with the achievements, his dreams do not end here. He aims for ODI status for Nepal in a couple of years time and hopes for Test status in next 15-20 years.

18. Movie buff: Khadka loves watching films and once confessed during an interview with ESPNCricinfo that he gets emotional while watching them. 2006 Bollywood blockbuster Rang De Basanti is one of his all-time favourites.

19. Personal life: In what could be a setback to scores of his female fans, Khadka is a happily married man. He tied the knot with his longtime girlfriend Prapti Rajya Laxmi Rana on February 26, 2015. His wife apparently has immense passion for golf.

Khadka at his wedding ceremony with wife Prapti. Image Courtesy: Facebook
Khadka at his wedding ceremony with wife Prapti. Image Courtesy: Facebook

20. Popularity: Khadka enjoys massive fan-following in his country. It won t be an overstatement if we call him the poster-boy of Nepali cricket. His impressive personality, both on and off the field, makes him a perfect ambassador for cricket in Nepal.

His popularity in the tiny landlocked country could be understood by his own words, spoken during an interview with ESPNCricinfo, I need to wear masks at times now in public places. I can’t do things I used to do earlier. I just can’t walk out anywhere and everywhere. Earlier I used to do whatever I wanted to, which I cannot anymore because people recognise me easily.

It has also been reported in the past that whenever he ventures out from his home, he puts on a mask in order to avoid getting mobbed.