Som always used to say he is a bowler. He came here to be a bowler for Nepal. He wanted to bowl fast. He just never mentioned his batting whatsoever. Not once. Probably, that was the only reason he batted better than he would have loved to bowl likewise. I really can’t provide you the whole details, an observant analysis, how he bowled or performed in senior regional games as I was a mere spectator then. All I can say, his selections to Senior Regional team wasn’t much productive as per expected and hyped to be honest. And he had to start it all over again; luckily age was at his side.
We selected 14 member squad from 37 arrived for trials in KCTC. Selecting was easy with all the talent that was in offer but not selecting the other equally talented ones was pretty hard. We first made a cut off list of 18 but were forced to include couple of more. Finally we were all set and done with 14 of them.
“No wonder we lost. But we had that satisfaction to achieve something one wouldn’t have expected out of us at start of the tournament. NCFC is not an academy, NCFC don’t have ground, all they have is belief and grit to perform, determination to achieve.”
Matches were scheduled to be played in Pulchowk Engineering Ground starting as early as 9 AM (not sharp, it’s Nepal). He struggled in first match. He struggled badly. In fact, he was taken for runs in early morning start, we were bowling and ball used to take bath every time rolled down in out-field. Forget that, Sompal slipped many a times in his run up as he was not allowed to use his boots with spikes. Dreadful was, Som running a two step run-up like a spinner to avoid injuries and unnecessary loose balls due to slippery grip. He took himself out of the attack. A bowler who only and only has aspired to qualify for National team takes a decision as harsh as that. Ironically other local bowlers who should have played in a 7 AM match at Tundhikhel with ‘slippers’ (Warning: Boys! It’s not an idea to implement) bowled well and shown better control than Sompal. And again same old voices from the other camp I could hear; Yeah, Som is over-rated. He came back for his second spell. He castle stumps, sent them for picturesque Cart-Wheel portraits in air. We won the match, Som contributed with bat with pretty looking 20 odd runs cameo. We had lunch session in nearby Chinese restaurant and we had that (especially Bhola) intense session with boys. We asked them to point out two weak points of the day. We analyzed and assessed all our plans of that day and next day.
NCFC U19 Full Squad, 2013
That’s with the team. Personally, I and Bhola were really unsure about Som, no doubts though. We made a conclusion, let him play, let him acclimatize the conditions in Nepal. Let him take his time, or simply surrender our faith to luck and just concentrate on developing as a player. May it take time, one year or two, but eventually he should get in team completely prepared than fast tracking unprepared now.
Next day, again we bowled early morning when ground is like dew ponds. We lost the game. Som was taken for plenty of runs of his four overs. And again he batted little. We lost to SWCC, new cricket academy. We had fielding lapses. The boys used to mess it up in field after doing great in practice drills, nerves I guess, and of course they were kids. We had that lunch session again, all were pretty sad. And that was the day Som said to us (in his thin voice) “chinta nagarnus, tournament bata hami khali hath chai jadainau” (don’t worry, we won’t go empty handed from the tournament).
We won the third match of the league and qualified for semi finals, but as we finished 2nd in league round we had to face the unbeaten Mahavir CC in semis. Mahavir has been one of the most productive clubs over the years in Kathmandu, and this term they had sure shot U19 national players like Bhivatsu Thapa and Prakash Bista and to add that they had tournament’s highest run getter and wicket-taker (I really don’t remember the bowler’s name but he was slow medium pacer still effective at that level).
In semi’s we played our heart out. Boys batted pretty well to get a defendable total. When Mahavir started their innings they were above run rate, Sompal was struggling as Prakash Bista (Batsman of the tournament) collected runs briskly especially using Sompal’s pace to his benefit. Som was giving everything he has but only end up going for boundaries for high flown edges and utterly timed fours square of the wicket. The spectacle was worth million dollars, as both prodigies collide, the fielders were mere spectators just like us. We only get into the match after few run-out, breathtaking fielding by Pradeep Tandan (one of the best I have seen in this level). Like so many times before in the tournament, Sompal again comeback well for his second spell and picked up wickets. So we stunned Mahavir. Special mention to Aayush Thapa who batted as cool as cucumber getting boundaries at will on sheer timings and placement something even Gyanendra Malla can be proud of in shot-making. We reached finals. We had that final show down and against the same club we lost in group stage, SWCC.
Personally, I was real happy, we were in finals and it actually was a team effort. Neither Sompal played his lone show neither Arjun raised the hell. Bablu kept struggling and we had to change bowlers in each match. So, nothing satisfied me more than the collective effort we displayed. It was some kind of opening to future expectations and endeavours with club NCFC with same set of players in a hope NCFC can produce another Sompal Kami for Nepal.
From Left: Me, Pradeep Tandan, Sompal Kami, Arjun Adhikari, Bablu Yadav and Bhola Neupane
We lost the final game, but the way boys came back after being dead and buried in the match it was worth losing a match for the fight and character shown by the both teams till the last run was taken. Grittiness, refusal to give up was on display from batsmen and bowlers from both sides. 6 runs were made like 600 in those last few overs by NCFC fielders and bowlers, SWCC made those 600 runs to win.
No wonder we lost. But we had that satisfaction to achieve something one wouldn’t have expected out of us at start of the tournament. NCFC is not an academy, NCFC don’t have ground, all they have is belief and grit to perform, determination to achieve. Sompal too scored his best score of the tournament in final game only falling to a terrific catch in deep. He didn’t get much of wickets as opponent players were just happy to defend his over through.
Well, then, Sompal did what he promised, we weren’t empty handed. We had that runner up trophy. We simply celebrated that day. No complains whatsoever. We celebrated drinking (Cold Drinks, Duh!), eating and making nick names as we found out both Arjun and Sompal had huge appetite for movies. Sompal made names for everybody; Bhola Neupane was Adnan Sami, Arjun was Chunky Pandey, Bablu was Johnny Lever and they called me Singham.
First I thought I will write ‘an’ article on Sompal then it became two, now, sorry to say, I will be working on its third part. That is how he fared in District games. Those couple of back to back centuries and Journey to World Cup Selections. Thank you for your patience. The Gulmi Express Continues….