If India had agreed to particpate in Asia Cup two years ago, he would have been the first Nepalese to play one-day international cricket. But his dream was scattered after the tournament was postponed after India denied to play given to the controvery of Kashmir between the two rival neighbours. But still there are chances that, Sher Bahadur Lama, who plays his international cricket for Hong Kong, can achieve it.
Sher, a Nepali word for lion, was in the Hong Kong squad that reached the final of third ACC trophy held in UAE in 2000. Hong Kong qualified for the Asia Cup but is still waiting for that landmark debut in one-day international.
India-born Rahul Sharma, who played in Ranji Trophy, the home league of India, is still dominating the Hong Kong cricket with more than 100 centuries in local and international matches for the last decade but Sher, whose home is in Sunwal of Nawalparasi district of Nepal, has made a different identity in cricket as an allrounder.
Sher was born in Hong Kong as his father working for British Army was deployed there. He spend his youth in Nepal and learnt cricket here. Upendra Bhattarai, the president of Baluwatar Cricket Club, helped him to enchance his skills (so Sher respects Upendra as a father).
Sher Lama played three national league tournaments representing Bagmati, Kathmandu and Lalitpur and won Rameshwor Bhattarai Cup for Baluwatar Club before he returned Hong Kong in 1993. Sher expressed his willingness to play cricket when he saw people playing cricket in Army Camp. He was told to give a trial. He impressed them by his performance in trial and was included in the team as a medium pace bowler and batsman. Interestingly, he used to play as wicketkeeper-batsman before that.
Sher played for Kalung Cricket Club in Hong Kong’s league. KCC is regarded as one of the best teams in the league which won Sunday League Championship in 1999-2000 and Saturday League in 2000.
Sher was called to national team after he made unbeaten 97 runs in Sunday League Plate Final in 1997. He wanted to play for Nepal in 1996 but due to unsuitable situation he decided to try for Hong Kong national team.
Sher’s debut from Hong Kong national team was significant for one more reason. He was playing in debut match in Nepal. In 1998, Nepal organised the Second ACC Trophy. “I was happy to play in Nepal although I was not representing Nepal,” recalls Sher. “The people were surprised to learn that a Nepalese boy is playing from Hong Kong.”
In 2000 ACC, he played against Nepal and took two important wickets in the semifinal. “I didn’t feel bad, I should play for the team I am representing,” says Sher. He took five wickets against Singapore in recently concluded Fourth ACC Trophy.
Sher wants to return Nepal some day as his mother is here. He loves the performace of Nepal in international cricket and wants to establish a cricket academy here after he returns.
Well, good luck Sher, you can make us proud.
(Pandey is the sports reporter in Nepal Samacharpatra, sub-editor in NepalCricket and visited Singapore with the Nepalese team for fourth ACC trophy.)