After his fruitful club games campaign with NCFC U19 team as a captain, there was no second guessing that he would be included in the team for KDCA District games. The KDCA team already had likes of household names in Bhivatsu Thapa, Prakash Bista and Sharad Khadka who were more celebrated or sought out players to play for Nepal (U19 at least) especially Bhivatsu with the pyrotechnics he showcased in senior regional games for Kathmandu where Sompal failed to impress a stone. Sompal always batted better than he ever bowled ever since he arrived in Nepal. Almost, every time he used to say, his bowling hasn’t suited in Nepal, he has struggled to find a proper area to bowl in the pitches or against batsmen we have in here. Batsmen are not committing enough to work out plans or stick to a rhythm. He even used to say, confidently, he will pick more wickets or simply will be more effective in much competitive level. In simpler words, the line and length he always had practiced in Punjab, he grown learning, is simply not working or coming handy in Nepal, so far.
May be this were the reasons, technically, he never was successful when he first played for Kathmandu in senior regional games. And only to be stamped by KDCA’s U19 Coach after his bowling performance in district games. Again, they said, he doesn’t uses his head while bowling, but many may have overlooked, he was using too much of head to settle down in playing style of this part of the world.
Sompal the bowler was yet to arrive; the batsman made records. Yes, he scored back to back century in consecutive days against Bhaktapur and Nuwakot in KDCA District Games. A century in a 40 over-per-side game and that too batting at no.6 is some feat. Probably, it was the feat which must have cleared all his doubts as he followed up with another one in next match.
Sompal playing for KDCA
I was lucky to be there, after finishing my duties for NCFC I never realized the district games were starting from next day itself just after the final day of club games. Bhola gave me a call, and I arrived at ground just when Sompal has entered for batting. The century was a spectacle, a century full of high quality strokes. He dispatched sixes over covers. I can envy those mesmerizing shots over any live TV/Youtube stuffs. His talent was on full show. It is quite amusing to know that a pace bowler like him bats with such a soft hands. Traditionally/physically, recalling the fast bowlers all around the world, many have hard hitting wrists/hands. An elegant innings builder, who occupies the crease, concentrates on timings and placement than power or muscle. One thing for sure, he is a hard nut to be dismissed when he gets set.
I was unfortunate to miss rest of the season games as I had family commitments to fulfill. I was in bus to way home when I called Bhola for update. He said Sompal again got century. First I didn’t believe then I regret to miss another masterpiece by the batsman Sompal. It was a welcome development in Som’s cricket, someone who said he will perform better with raise in level. He had none half-centuries in club games and two centuries in two games for district team.
Sompal again won the man of the tournament award and he was selected for the U19 regional team. He performed exceptionally well in regional games both with bat and ball. Though batted down the order; the bowler Sompal finally arrived. He picked up second most wickets in regional games. His performances were enough for him to be selected in Nepal U19 team for Asia Cup under the captaincy of Bhuvan Karki. However, things changed. Things changed drastically.
Sompal in JTWC
Even Sompal would have accepted his time is not now and satisfied with junior team for the time being. In other part of the world, Nepal was creating history. Nepal qualified to play in T20 World Cup for the first time. Nepal was happy. The players were happy. They were tired after a long grueling tournament that saw Nepal triumphant but with few holes to fill before another major assignment down under.
The bowling especially, with Amrit Bhattarai struggling big time and no 4th seam bowler in fray.
The coach decided to give chance to youngsters and other options in Journey to World Cup tournament stacked up in between to celebrate Nepal’s success in middle-east. Naresh Budhayer, Prithu Baskota, leg-spinner Raj Kumar Pradhan and for biggest of surprise Sompal Kami was called up.
The organizers hadn’t even made Sompal’s jersey for the tournament in non-expectation of his surprise inclusion. He wore Amrit’s, in all innocence of the situation, the baton was passed.
Sompal gave it all. He performed. And like he used to say, his performance graph kept on rising with increase in level. Sompal performed his best against Singapore, a national team, picking up 3 wickets going with 2 drop catches of his bowling. The keeper Subash seemed struggling with late movement Sompal used to get with his deliveries moving the ball away from right handers. The ball in one occasion was collected by Shakti Gauchan in very close first slip. I still remember how I high-fived him during lunch break asking him to take 5 wickets at least and all he did was to smile back at me with aforementioned performance to back it up. However, Nepal lost in the final against Air India with players consisting of former and current Ranji players like Jagrit Aanand(current Delhi player) and R Singh Sodhi (former India Player).
Journey to World Cup was the tournament, when first time such high quality one-day competition was hosted in Nepal, broadcasted live in national television, VVS Laxman visited Nepal, Cricketlok started operating and Sompal made it to the senior team. It was his performance as a bowler in Journey to World Cup tournament which sealed the deal for him. Sompal was withdrawn from the U19 squad and selected in 15 men squad for New Zealand.
A dream Sompal carried from unknown streets of Gulmi to Punjab to back to Nepal. An express bowler who batted better than he would have liked to bowl in domestic circuit. Though back to doing what he always wanted to represent Nepal for, to bowl fast.
Sompal went to horrible ICC World Cup Qualifiers campaign but emerged as one of few bright aspects for Nepal. He is now spearheading the Nepal attack. He now can run through the batting orders of opponents. He is one to look out for. He is now the integral part of Nepal national team. He now carries the hopes of millions on his young shoulders.
And I am the happiest person in this world living the dream with the Gulmi Express.