A Decade Later: Where are T20 World Cup 2014 heroes now?

A Decade Later: Where are T20 World Cup 2014 heroes now?

It has been 10 years since Nepal’s historic participation in the 2014 T20 World Cup. Nepal’s first-ever taste of the highest level of international cricket, the 2014 World Cup participation remains fresh in the memory of the cricket fanatics in Nepal. A decade has passed and where are the World Cup heroes now?

 

  • Paras Khadka

Nepal’s captain during the World Cup, Paras was integral to Nepal’s rise in the international cricket scene. 

Paras took Nepal’s first-ever wicket in the World Cup when he dismissed Hong Kong’s Irfan Ahmed from the first ball of the innings, which happened to be Nepal’s first wicket in the T20I format as well. In addition to a wicket, Paras scored 83 runs in three matches. Paras went on to become Nepal’s batting mainstay over the years and has won several international matches singlehandedly for Nepal. He is also Nepal’s first-ever ODI and T20I centurion. 

After captaining the side for nearly a decade, Paras stepped down from the role in 2019. He announced his international retirement a year later and has assumed office as the Chairman of the Bagmati Province Cricket Association and the secretary of CAN since 2023. Paras is arguably the most influential athlete in the history of Nepal.

 

  • Gyanendra Malla

Gyandendra Malla was the vice-captain of the side. Paras’s trusted understudy and one of Nepal’s best batter and fielder, Malla had a very fruitful World Cup campaign with the bat. Malla scored 83 runs in three matches, with 48 runs against Hong Kong being the highlight. Along with Paras, Malla was the leader of the side during the last decade. 

Malla led the side after Paras’s resignation in 2019 and is one of the five Nepali batters to hit a T20I century.

Malla announced his retirement in 2023 and assumed the role of the head coach of Nepal ‘A’ side in 2024. Malla has contributed to uplifting Nepal from WCL Division 5 to an ODI Status. Like Paras, Malla has a cricketing legacy that is spread across three decades.

 

  • Sagar Pun

Sagar Pun was the one-half of Nepal’s opening pair in Bangladesh. Pun was a reliable all-rounder and electric in the field. 

Pun lost his place as the starter in the national team after Nepal’s disastrous 2016 T20 World Cup qualifiers in Ireland. His inconsistent performance during the World Cricket League Championship and struggle with recurring injuries meant the management started to look beyond Pun for the allrounder spot.

Pun last played an ODI for Nepal back in 2018. He plies his trade in the USA now, free from injuries, and back to professional cricket.

 

  • Subash Khakurel

A wicket-keeper batter, Subash Khakurel was the other half of Nepal’s opening pair in the World Cup. Khakurel played a vital role in Nepal’s World Cup qualification as he was the top scorer for the team. Khakurel was the first Nepali to hit a T20I half-century when he hit 56 vs Afghanistan in the World Cup encounter and was the second-highest top-scorer for Nepal in the World Cup with 86 runs in three matches. 

Khakurel was unavailable for the 2016 T20 World Cup qualifiers due to illness and his absence cost Nepal dearly. Nepal struggled to find a set opening pair throughout the World Cricket League Championship, and Khakurel struggled for form in the 50-over format. 

The World Cricket League tri-series against USA and Oman in 2022 was the last time Khakurel donned the national team jersey in an ODI match. He is semi-retired now and in Adelaide.

 

  • Binod Bhandari

Binod Bhandari was the specialist batter and a back-up wicketkeeper in the squad. Bhandari played in all of Nepal’s World Cup matches but had an uneventful tournament with the bat. Post World Cup, Nepal struggled to properly fit in Bhandari in the batting lineup as the management struggled to build a formidable batting core around Paras Khadka. Binod’s form did not help either as the chances in the senior team dried up.

Binod last played an ODI match for Nepal in 2022 and is still in contention for the spot in the T20 squad of Nepal. With the emergence of batter-wicketkeepers such as Anil Sah and Arjun Saud, chances of Bhandari making it to the ODI team once again look slim but he is still in the mix for the T20I squad for the World Cup.

 

  • Naresh Budhayir

Naresh Budhayer was given the role of a specialist batter in the team. He was entrusted with the role of a finisher but failed to leave any impact in the World Cup. 

Budhayer’s batting woes continued when he was promoted to open the innings with Gyanendra Malla during the WCL encounter against Kenya. He failed to make the most of the given chances and subsequently lost his place in the squad.

Now in Canada, Budhayer is eyeing a spot in the Canada national team after he was called for the close camp in 2022.

 

  • Pradeep Airee

Pradeep Airee was Nepal’s opener throughout the 2014 World Cup qualifiers but lost his place to Sagar Pun for the World Cup. Although Airee did not feature in any of the World Cup matches, he remained in the Nepalese squad up until the 2016 T20 World Cup qualifiers.

Aerie struggled for consistency throughout his career. He failed to back his stellar domestic performances with international performances and his national team appearances were sporadic. Airee last played for Nepal in 2022 vs Oman.

 

  • Shakti Gauchan

One of Nepal’s most recognized cricketers, Gauchan was the senior player of the side. He had been representing Nepal since his U-17 days in 2001 and at 29, he was already a bonafide veteran. Gauchan played a key role in Nepal’s impressive bowling displays during the tournament and was the team’s joint-highest wicket-taker for Nepal along with Basant Regmi, taking five wickets in three matches.

Gauchan is a legend unlike any other—an athlete who has solemnly dedicated his life to the game of cricket. Gauchan retired in 2018 and has shifted his focus to breeding the future generation through his academy in his hometown, Bhairahawa. In a career that spanned 17 years, Gauchan is a legend who saw Nepal cricket grow from a nascency to an ODI nation.

 

  • Basant Regmi

Nepal’s Mr. Dependable. Nepal used to rely on Basanta Regmi’s spin magic whenever the going got tough. Regmi was Nepal’s joint-highest wicket-taker and the only Nepali bowler to take at least a wicket in all of the team’s World Cup matches.

Regmi is the highest wicket-taker in the now-defunct World Cricket League. The vast majority of his career coincided with Nepal’s ascendance in the division structure of the World Cricket League. The emergence of youngsters like Sandeep Lamichhane and Lalit Rajbanshi meant Regmi lost his place during the post-ODI status era.

Now in the USA and playing club cricket, Regmi will bow out as one of Nepal’s greatest spinners when he officially calls his time in the national team. Along with Gauchan, Regmi formed a potent spin duo that shouldered Nepal’s bowling attack for nearly a decade.

 

  • Jitendra Mukhiya

Nepal’s OG death-over specialist. Mukhiya was discovered by coach Pubudu Dasanayake and was brought into the squad for the World Cup qualifiers. 

Mukhiya’s pairing with Kami strengthened Nepal’s pace bowling attack immensely in the World Cup. He took four wickets in the World Cup, with 3/18 against Afghanistan being the highlight. 

‘Player of the Match’ in Nepal’s memorable victory against Afghanistan, Mukhiya was injured with back problems post-World Cup. His momentum was derailed and failed to create any major impacts in his comeback. Mukhiya last played for Nepal in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in UAE and has been trying his luck in the domestic circuit. A pace bowler who could hit perfect yorker length consistently, Mukhiya perhaps is the case of ‘what could have been’, had he been not injured.

 

  • Sompal Kami

The breakout star. The Gulmi Express. Sompal was the revelation of the World Cup for Nepal. Sompal was the youngest player in the squad at 18 years old and took four wickets in the World Cup. He injected freshness and energy into the pace attack. 

Since the World Cup, Sompal has cemented a legacy of his own. Now one of the first names in the playing XI, he is Nepal’s most experienced player. Sompal has carved out a cricket career in which he has been a part of Nepal’s first-ever World Cup match, first-ever ODI match, and first-ever Asia Cup match. Barring an injury in 2020, Sompal has regularly featured for the national team in the last decade and is arguably Nepal’s greatest-ever pace bowler. 

 

  • Amrit Bhattarai

Amrit Bhattarai shouldered the responsibility of the pace attack before the emergence of Sompal, Jitendra, and Avinash Karn. He did not play in any of Nepal’s World Cup matches.

Bhattarai made his national team debut in 2006 and has not played much for Nepal post the World Cup.

 

  • Sharad Vesawakar

Nepal’s middle-order mainstay. Sharad Vesawakar was the highest run scorer for Nepal in the World Cup and made 91 runs in three matches. He had played a defining role in helping Nepal secure the World Cup berth. One of Nepal’s most dependable batters along with Paras and Gyanendra, Sharad was one of Nepal’s batting pillars throughout Nepal’s journey of gaining an ODI status.

Sharad remained the backbone of Nepal’s middle order throughout the most of last decade. He last played an ODI match for Nepal in 2021 and continues to play domestic cricket. 

  • Anil Mandal | Avinash Karn

Anil Mandal was drafted in as the replacement for the injured Avinash Karn. Karn was the pace bowler and played his part in helping the team qualify for the World Cup. 

A specialist batter, Mandal had been in the national side since 2010 but was overlooked in favor of fresh batting talents. Neither of them made any appearances in the World Cup.

Mandal is the first Nepali to score a century in the World Cricket League Championship. He and Karn last played for Nepal in 2015. Karn is active in domestic circuits, representing the Tribhuvan Army whereas Mandal was last seen in the domestic circuit in 2022.

  • Rahul Viswakarma

Rahul Viswakarma was touted as Nepal’s next bowling sensation. A left-arm off-spinner, Rahul sent waves across the cricketing fraternity with his 6/4 spell against PNG in the 2012 U-19 World Cup.

He did not make any appearances in the World Cup and failed to live up to the billing. Rahul failed to carve a spot in the senior side and is now playing in the European Club Championship.

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