Decoding the journey of Nepal batsman Kushal Bhurtel
The International Cricket Council (ICC), on Wednesday, announced the nominees for the ICC Player of the Month Award for April. Nepal's Kushal Bhurtel is one of the names on the list besides Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman. The talented opening batsman recently scripted history by scoring three consecutive half-centuries in a T20I tournament. We present his cricketing journey as of now.
Hailing from Butwal, Bhurtel is a right-handed batsman, who now opens for the Nepal national cricket team. During his early days, he impressed the selectors in the local tournaments, thereby entering the Under-16 side. In 2016, Bhurtel was named in Nepal's squad for the Under-19 Cricket World Cup. The side also comprised leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane, who has played in the Indian Premier League.
Nepal defeated New Zealand in their opening game of the 2016 Under-19 World Cup. Batting at number eight, Bhurtel played a fiery cameo (35* off 23 balls. It is interesting to note that he was used as a power-hitter in the lower middle-order initially.
Bhurtel made his List A debut for Nepal against India in the Emerging Teams Cup in November 2019. In the same month, he was also named in Nepal's squad for the men's cricket tournament at the 2019 South Asian Games. The Nepalese team won the bronze medal after beating Maldives in the third-place playoff match. However, Bhurtel's golden moment was yet to arrive.
In April 2021, Bhurtel was named in Nepal's T20I squad for the Tri-Series. He made his international debut in the tournament opener against Netherlands. He top-scored in the match (62), and followed it up with an unbeaten 61 against Malaysia. Another 62 against Netherlands made him the first-ever player to slam half-centuries in each of his first three men's T20Is.
Bhurtel scored a brilliant 77 in the tournament final as Nepal registered a 142-run victory over Netherlands. He finished with 278 runs at an incredible average of 69.8, and was adjudged the Player of the Series. Notably, as many as 192 of those runs came in boundaries. And now, Bhurtel has been nominated for the ICC Men's Player of the Month Award (April).
The ICC Men's Player of the Month nominees for April are in 👀— ICC (@ICC) May 5, 2021
Fakhar Zaman 🇵🇰 302 ODI runs at 100.66, two centuries
Babar Azam 🇵🇰 228 ODI runs at 76.00; 305 T20I runs at 43.57
Kushal Bhurtel 🇳🇵 278 T20I runs at 69.50
Vote now: https://t.co/ZYuKhVxbHF 🗳️#ICCPOTM pic.twitter.com/7dyVhwkFOo