It’s often said that success stories are born out of adversities and struggles. It’s perhaps more so with sports person. This is exactly what has happened to the new face in Nepali national team – Sunil Dhamala. Born on 27th of September 1997 as the youngest of three sons to a lower-middle class family in the difficult hills of Kalikot district, Dhamala had no business being a cricketer. Yet with sheer determination, hard work and a little bit of fortune, here he is in the verge of representing senior Nepal National Team.
Dhamala family had no options but to seek an alternative place for livelihood as Kalikot remained a seemingly “forever poor” district. Sunil was too young to even build a proper Nepali accent when his parents made the decision to shift to Himachal Pradesh, India. That is where he came into terms with cricket as a sport. As a young kid he did not have any other passion apart from cricket. His love towards the game and constant persistance saw him rise through the ranks in his school, town and just into his mid teens, he was already training in Punjab Cricket Association facilities in Mohali.
Sunil had his relatives in Dhanghadhi, Nepal and he used to visit them in festive seasons. In his earlier visits he was unaware about the amount of cricket craze in Dhangadhi and Nepal in general. He was pleasantly surprised when he knew through social medias that cricket was already a popular sport in Nepal. Then and there, he made up his mind that he will pursue cricket as a career and he will definitely do so in his homeland.
Sunil then came to Nepal with a single misson of playing for the country. Under the guidance of relatives, he made up the decision to represent Doti in the Region No.9 selection tournament. His good returns in the selection tournament with both bat and ball meant he was an automatic selection for R-9 team for the national tournament.
Year 2070. National 50 overs U19 tournament. A tournament which proved to be a stepping stone for Dhamala as he has not looked back since. A fluent opening batsman and a handy off-spinner Dhamala emerged as the “hands and shoulder above” Best Batsman and Player of the Tournament as he scored a century and two fifties and collected 9 wickets.
Dhamala was here to stay and stay long.He was subsequently drafted into the national team for U19 Asia Cup where he made 55 runs in 2 matches – a fighting 39 against Pakistan and 16 against India. He was able to retain his place for the subsequent ACC Premeir League, the Asian qualifier for the U19 World Cup. There he managed some handy medium scores with a highest of 29 but was the second highest wicket taker for Nepal with 7 wickets, only behind left arm spinner Sushil Kandel’s 8. Nepali team finished as runners up and was qualified for the global qualifier. Sunil further enhanced his reputation as a horse for a long race with his scores of 109 and 68 against senior National team in practice matches held in Kathmandu.
The media and fans alike were starting to get abuzz with Dhamala stories. The optimism of finally finding a good opening batsman was starting to float around grounds and streets in Nepal. Just around then, Dhamala and the U19 team reached Malaysia for the U19 Global Qualifier. Almost inevitably, Dhamala emerged as the highest run scorer of the tournament with 170 runs in 5 matches with a top score of 75 against Ireland. He also took 6 wickets at an average of slightly over 16 and an economy rate of 3.03. Nepal entered into the U19 World Cup and Dhamala entered into the hearts and fantasies of many Nepali cricket fans.
There was no stopping Dhamala as he slammed an unbeaten century against Himanchal Pradesh Cricket Association in the practice match prior to the U19 World Cup. However it was his majestic innings of 45 against Afghanistan in the next match which caught everyone’s imagination. It was perhaps the best Dhamala ever batted in a cricket field as Nepal was scoring in double figure run rate for the first six overs and he was hitting boundaries in will. A real thrill flowed through everyone who saw his knock that day.
His performances in the WC matches were subdued by his standards. Despite not being a roof shattering return, his 134 runs and 5 wickets in 6 matches were achieved at important moments. Nepal finished as the 8th in the tournament, its best finishever and Dhamala was every bit a part of it. Dhamala was perceived as among 3 or 4 who would soon represent Nepal in senior team.
Thereafter be it his “Best Batsman” performance playing for the Nepal Police Club in Ruslan T20 Cup (112 runs in 4 matches) or his stints with Santoshi Tole in Dhangadhi Cricket League, he kept on enhancing his reputation. And now here he is, the third member of the historic U19 team (after Sandeep Lamichhane and Raju Rijal ) to find a place in National Team.
Dhamala family is still in India where his father is a government service holder and his brothers are carrying out businesses while he is in Nepal affiliated with Nepal Police Club, for whom he plays the national tournament.
He has his story of taking up career decisions in adversities as he once said in his Hindi accent Nepali, ” I am here to play and I don’t care anything else. I may not have money today but why should I care, I will have them someday anyway.”