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U-19 World Cup controversy: Is Nepal skipper 25 years old?

City's Ranji Trophy batsman Kaustubh Pawar (25) says Nepal U-19 captain Raju Rijal played alongside him in the Mumbai U-15 team and was then known as Raju Sharma

Nepal's captain Raju Rijal, who is representing his country in the ongoing ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh could be over-aged by six years, according to a Mumbai first-class cricketer, who was Rijal’s teammate in the Mumbai under-15 team.

Kaustubh Pawar
Kaustubh Pawar

Mumbai Ranji Trophy batsman Kaustubh Pawar took to Facebook to accuse Rijal of age-fudging although the Nepal skipper played for the Mumbai junior outfit under a different name — Raju Sharma.

Pawar’s Facebook post
Pawar posted a picture of Rijal (see image) on his Facebook page and wrote in a caption.

"We played together in under-15 for Mumbai and now he is captain of Nepal under-19 team and we others are 24-25 age respectively. In Mumbai Raju Sharma, in Nepal Raju Rijal. #SaveCricket #Shame #ICCUnder19WorldCupBangladesh2016."
Pawar represented Mumbai under-15 during the 2005-06 season.

Nepal captain Raju Rijal (left) leads his team on the field for the U-19 match against India at Mirpur yesterday. Pic/ICC
Nepal captain Raju Rijal (left) leads his team on the field for the U-19 match against India at Mirpur yesterday. Pic/ICC

Yesterday, Rijal played against India at Mirpur and scored six off 26 balls. Meanwhile, Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) managing committee member Vinod Deshpande confirmed that Raju Rijal is the same player who played for Mumbai as Raju Sharma.

"Kaustubh is right. Raju Sharma was in MCA under-19 summer vacation camp at MIG Cricket Club when I was coach of the MIG centre in the 2010-11 season," Deshpande told mid-day yesterday.

A screen grab of Kaustubh Pawar's Facebook page
A screen grab of Kaustubh Pawar's Facebook page

"Though this happened five years ago, I still remember the face of that boy. He appeared for the selection trials wearing a Mumbai under-15 jersey and cap which I asked him to remove. He must have been 19 at that time. I am 500 per cent sure that he was the same player who is playing for Nepal now," confirmed Deshpande. Pawar did not respond to calls from this newspaper.

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