KATHMANDU: “Come Shakti. Guys do you know this is Shakti from Nepal. He has been doing really well in the camp. Let us all cheer for him.”
Applause came from a group of cricketers including Australian allrounder Brad Hodge and fast bowling sensation Shaun Tait in Jaipur’s Sabai Man Singh Stadium when the above words of praise came from Indian batting legend Rahul Dravid for Nepal’s veteran left-arm spinner Shakti Gauchan after he ran out a batsman during a practice match at the Rajasthan Royals training camp on Sunday.

Four days earlier, Shakti had left for Jaipur after he was given a surprise call to join the training camp of the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise. Though Shakti is miles away from the glitzy colours of world cricket’s most lucrative competition, the 29-year old believes he has partially lived his dream.

“I was some 10 metres away when Dravid called me after that run out. I was a bit hesitant at the beginning as he was with Hodge, Tait and West Indian batsman Kevin Cooper in the group. But, when Dravid introduced me, I thought I have played my IPL. It was actually the day I had dreamt of a long time ago,” Shakti told The Himalayan Times from Jaipur.

Shakti would like to call April 1 as the day of his life where he joined Dravid and Hodge in the nets and dismissed both the batsmen. “Though I was bowling in the nets, I had a great feeling when I bowled Dravid. I was dying to celebrate the dismissal but somehow I refrained myself,” explained Shakti, who last month took a hat-trick — Nepal’s first in international men’s cricket — against Denmark during the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in the UAE.

“It was really a wonderful day (Sunday) for me as my bowling was appreciated by Hodge too after I trapped him leg before twice,” said Shakti. The bowler continued: “Dravid’s appreciation during the practice match later made my day.”

Shakti said Rajasthan Royals assistant coach Monty Desai handed him the ball every time a new batsman appeared in the nets. Shakti said to get called for the Royals — the winners of the inaugural edition of IPL — training camp in itself was a big achievement for Nepali cricket. “I don’t know whether I will make it to the IPL or not but my call-up for the camp will make a lot of people aware about Nepali cricket,” he said. “The people here have changed their perception towards me. The respect I got here is the respect to the Nepali cricket,” he added.

Shakti — who has spent three days in the Rajasthan Royals training camp — said he was unaware of his future in the lucrative IPL. “No one has come to me and talked about playing in the IPL. From my part as well I have not asked anyone about it. I think they monitored me this year and I might get a call next year,” Shakti told The Himalayan Times.

The Royals have already sent the final list of the Indian players to the IPL. The tournament regulation allows a team to make changes among the international players. “One of the local newspapers has stated that I can be associated with the IPL but I don’t know anything about it,” added Shakti.

If he is not considered for the team, Shakti said he would probably return to Nepal after watching Royals’ opening match against Kings-XI Punjab on April 6.


Source The Himalayan Times