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ICC Men's U19 World Cup

Arjun Kumal: New batting hope blooms in the sky

91 against Afghanistan in the U-19 Asia Cup and 90 against New Zealand in the U-19 World Cup, the numbers have spoken themselves for Arjun Kumal.

Coming from Chatrakot, Gulmi of Nepal, the rising star of Nepali Cricket, Arjun has already represented Nepal Under-16, Gandaki Province, Pokhara Rhinos, and Nepal Under-19 in his short cricketing journey so far. He was called up for the national side camp in 2021 after he showed a glimpse of his talent in the debut Prime Minister Cup season.

He has scored aggregated 310 runs off 10 matches in the PM Cup, the most prestigious domestic league of the country.

He was called for the Under-19 side back in 2021 for the ACC Under-19 Asia Cup. He only played a match against Bangladesh in the following event.

He has already proven himself in various competitions. The 18-year-old has already registered two fifty and as many centuries in age-level cricket for Nepal. Leading up to the ICC Men’s Under-19 World Cup, he scored 189 runs in five innings with an average of 47.25 last year in the qualifier, including a magnificent century against Kuwait. The qualifier was held in the UAE.

He continued his glorious form and notched up a mammoth 111-ball 143 against Saudi Arabia in the ACC Men’s Under-19 Premier Cup in 2023. It’s the highest individual score for Nepal in the age level.

He added 119 runs in the recently held Under-19 Asia Cup involving fighting 91 against Afghanistan.

Going back to his childhood, his parents moved out to Delhi, India. His father, whom he considered his first coach, used to craft him a wooden cricket bat and helped him play cricket on the terrace, ever since when he was only five.

Arjun was enrolled in the cricket academy in Delhi at the age of 7. Even though his parents wanted him to prioritize study over cricket, they consistently supported him throughout. They even went on to take loans and compromise the routine stuff for his cricketing dream.

Kaski District backed this promising cricketer and helped him to settle down in Nepal’s domestic arena. Interestingly, his coach Rahul Shamra Upadhaya, and Arjun played together in the PM Cup 2021. Coincidentally, Arjun’s debut domestic event turned out to be the last major event for his coach Rahul.

They stitched an 89-run partnership against Karnali in the following event at Mulpani Cricket Ground on January 19, 2021. Rahul, who is originally from Nawalparasi, Nepal, has been coaching the players back in Delhi for some time now.

Rahul is closely monitoring Arjun and helping him upgrade his game from his early days. Rahul stated that Arjun had the body language of a big player from his initial days. “Reading the game situation and sticking to the wicket until his side wins are in his genes”, Rahul added.

Captaining his academy, Arjun scored an unbeaten 229 at the Mayapuri Cricket Ground in New Delhi. According to Rahul, Arjun is the team man, always putting his body in the line for the team’s cause.

After getting a match in the Under-19 Asia Cup back in 2021, Arjun spent almost nine hours a day in the academy. With the ambition of equipping his skills and winning matches for Nepal, Arjun is still doing the hard yards day in and out.

“I strongly believe that Arjun will deliver match-winning performances for the Nepal senior side in the future at the Cricket World Cup”, Rahul said, when asked about the potential of his trainee. “I had talked to him after Nepal failed to win against New Zealand, he was very disappointed and equally determined to win the upcoming matches”, Rahul concluded.

Arjun, inspired by cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and a big fan of Virat Kohli, will surely need to do much more to transform himself into the senior side from the age level. The cricketing community believes that Arjun’s talent and dedication will propel him to success for Nepal on the international stage, avoiding the pitfalls that have hindered some promising players in the past.

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