Sompal Kami set the record of the highest score for a No.10 batsman in T20I cricket this month. This 18 year old has been in the squad for less than a year and is already one of Nepal’s most successful bowlers.
Sompal was born in Gulmi but when he was 3 his family moved to Punjab. He learned most his cricket there. He had even represented Punjab’s Youth team in inter-state tournaments. Offered to pursue cricket in Nepal, although the offer was only a friendly Facebook message, he immediately returned to Nepal in August last year.
Playing for Nepal Cricket Fan Club(NCFC) Sompal surprised everyone with his brisk pace and immaculate control over it as the fans started calling him “The Gulmi Express”. Nepal’s coach Pubudu Dassanayake had been searching for a genuine fast ever since his arrival in Nepal and Sompal, who was easily much faster than any bowler in Nepal, instantly caught his eye.
Late November 2013 – Nepal’s cricket team was in UAE and Nepal was sedated in ecstasy of Nepal’s maiden World T20 Qualification. On the return from UAE the team was to play a tri-series – “Journey to World Cup” at home. Dassnayake was eyeing to use Sompal’s pace in New Zealand for the World Cup Qualifier and saw the tri-series as an opportunity to test Sompal. He called Sompal, who was then in Nepal-U19 camp for U19 Asia Cup, from UAE and asked him to be ready for the tri-series.
The tri-series was the turning point in Sompal’s career. If the tri-series were a movie, the opening credits would have read “Starring-Sompal”- his pace troubled not just the batsmen from Air India and Singapore but also Nepal’s keeper Subash Khakurel. His selection for NZ tour was a no brainer.
“Our team is more of a family and Paras (dai) especially has looked over me and motivated me like a elder brother”, expressed the 18 year old.
Nepal’s fastest bowler, leading wicket taker this year and now T20I record holder, his feats have certainly outgrown his age. “Frankly, it was very tough for me initially and you don’t get mercy from opponents because you are 18. I had to grow” states Sompal who in just a year his from debut boasts several records that even most seasoned player would envy.
This soft- talking and sharp-thinking cricketer will be Nepal’s chief weapon in alien tracks of Namibia where Nepal is set to play Division 2 this January. “We out-performed every team playing this Divison-2 (except Netherlands) in the World T20 Qualifier last year. We can most certainly do it again”, he said bursting in confidence.
“Our seniors have selflessly contributed all their lives to cricket with dreams of taking Nepal Cricket to a bigger stage. This is our chance to turn those dreams into a reality” he added almost nervously.
(This story was published in Janauary 2015 Issue TEENZ NEXT)