REPUBLICA, KATHMANDU, Dec 21: Left-arm pacer Avinash Karn became the second Nepali bowler to take all the 10 wickets in an innings as he bowled a magical spell for Region No 2 Birgunj on Monday at the TU Cricket Ground in the league round of the Wai Wai U-19 National Cricket Tournament.
Karn claimed all the 10 wickets of Region No 6 Baitadi as Birgunj registered a 135-run victory, which took them into the semifinals of the tournament.
Karn gave away 24 runs, four of them wides, during his 6.1-over spell that also included a maiden over. Karna made Prem Tamang his first victim in the first over and completed the 10-wicket haul with the wicket of Sunil Tamang. He bowled four batsmen, trapped two for lbw and four others were caught off Karn´s bowling.
This is the first occasion in domestic cricket that any bowler has claimed all 10 wickets in an innings. However, Mehboob Alam is the first Nepali bowler to achieve the rare feat. Alam had taken all 10 wickets of Mozambique during the ICC World Cricket League Division 5 Tournament held in Jersey in 2008.
“I was surprised after hearing that Mehboob (Alam) dai had taken 10 wickets in Jersey, and I did the same today. It was an unexpected moment of my life,” said Karn.
There have been only two such occasions even in international cricket. England´s Jim Laker and India´s Anil Kumble have taken all 10 wickets in an innings in Test cricket. Both Laker and Kumble are spinners whereas both the Nepali recordholders are left-arm pacemen.
Karn credited coach Umesh Upadhyay for setting the base for his mercurial performance on Monday. Upadhyay has been coaching Karn since he was in grade six.
Karn, currently a ninth grader in Birgunj Public College, said that his bowling a proper line and length was the reason for picking wickets. “Except Naresh (Budhayer) every other batsman was struggling at the crease and I bowled my basic line, and that was away from the off-stump. My teammates encouraged me after I picked five wickets by the completion of my third over,” said Karn, a resident of Pragatinagar-3, Birgunj.
Karn was a key player when Nepal clinched the ACC U-17 Elite Cup title two years ago. He took two major wickets in the semifinal match against the UAE to take Nepal into the final of the tournament.
Karn started his domestic career three years ago with the U-15 national tournament, where he had an average performance.
His previous best bowling figure was 8-3-19-7 against Region No 4 Bhairahawa in the final of the Boost U-16 National League Cricket Tournament. Though he had done well in the tournament, Karn could not participate in the ACC U-16 Elite Cup since he was declared overage in a medical test.
For love of country
Karn had visited his maternal uncle´s home this year in Delhi, where he enrolled in the training institute of Indian cricketer Vijay Dahiya for three months. “Dahiya had asked me to play there for two more years and claimed that I could make it to the Indian age-group team,” said Karn. “However, I returned home,” he added. According to Karn, his father, an engineer by profession, has to stay away from home due to work and his brother is studying in India.
Birgunj in semifinal
Inspired by Karn´s thrilling performance, Birgunj defeated Baitadi by 135 runs and stormed into the semifinals of the tournament as the runners-up of Group A. Birgunj were all out for 190 in 46.3 overs. Shiva Kumar Tandukar struck 53 runs off 59 balls while Amit Shrestha (32) and Suraj Prasad Kurmi (30) were the other major contributors for Birgunj. Arjun Chapagain took three wickets while Bhuwan Karki claimed two wickets for Baitadi.
In reply, Baitadi were bowled out for 55 runs in 12.1 overs as Karn grabbed all the 10 wickets. Naresh Budhayer (19) and Sunil Tamang (11) were the only two Baitadi batsmen to score in double digits.
With the win, Birgunj have four points from three games and a confirmed semifinal spot from the group. Kathmandu top the group with six points from three games.
Meanwhile, Region No 5 Nepalgunj thrashed Region No 1 Biratnagar by 84 runs in a group B match played at the Pulchowk Cricket Ground on Monday.
Nepalgunj were all out for 207 runs in 43.1 overs. Navaraj Shahi scored 46 runs off 91 balls while Subhendu Pandey struck 25 runs off 21 balls. Nirjal Chhetri claimed four wickets while Hari Chaulagain took two wickets for Biratnagar.
In reply, Biratnagar batsmen failed to translate their start into a successful run chase. Opener Somesh Kumar Yadav (20) and Aditya Shrestha (33) gave a 44-run opening stand but Nepalgunj claimed wickets in regular intervals to skittle Biratnagar for 123 runs in 30.1 overs. Siddhant Shahi and Inamuddin Halwai took four wickets each while Sunil Sunar claimed the other two. Halwai, who also scored 19 runs for Nepalgunj, was adjudged man of the match.
After the victory, Nepalgunj have two points from as many matches in group B, while Bhairahawa have six points from three games and have already booked a semifinal spot. Janakpur also have two points.