Soumya Sarkar might have failed to score big against Nepal, but there was no failure in drawing fans wherever he goes since coming to Kathmandu for the 13th South Asian Games.
Bangladesh are strong favourites to win the title of men’s cricket here, having already made it to the final. And despite Nepal not making it to the gold-deciding match, a strong home crowd is expected to turn up to cheer for a very popular Bangladesh team on Monday when they take on Sri Lanka in the final at the Tribhuvan University Ground.
Soumya, a two-time World Cupper, has been in talks among general people whenever cricket comes up, and that perhaps happens too often as cricket has become very popular in the country once dominated by football.
The Bangladesh opener scored only six runs in their game against Nepal, but once he came out of the ground after Bangladesh’s 44-run win, his popularity in this country was quite evident, as he was thronged by expatriate Bangladeshis as well as locals, who were hoping to take selfies with him.
Preetam Duwal Shrestha and Shailesh Maharjan are two friends, both of whom came to the ground to watch Bangladesh, and especially Soumya, play.
“Soumya Sarkar is very popular in our country and so is Bangladesh. They play against Australia, India all the time. We have come to watch Bangladesh play Nepal here. We will be back tomorrow when Bangladesh play Sri Lanka in the last match of the group stage and then in the final the following day,” said Shreshtha, who works for NCell, Nepal’s largest telecom company.
Close to 4000 people turned up at the venue to watch the game and even though Nepal lost, many of the home fans like Shreshtha and Maharjan were happy to leave with a picture with the star Bangladeshi cricketer.
The two friends also got a bonus, a selfie with team manager and former skipper Habibul Bashar, whom they recognised instantly as he made his way towards the team bus leaving for the hotel.