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Nestled as it is in the heart of the Himalayas, for centuries none but the most intrepid made it through the steep mountain passes to reach proudly independent Bhutan. Archery being the national sport guaranteed the country considerable protection against invaders. But the Bhutanese were helpless before the onslaught of electromagnetic waves carrying television signals.

Starting in 2001, Indian television began threading its way through the highlands and, in its wake, came an appreciation for movies, soap operas and cricket. "Cricket caught on just because of STAR TV and Doordarshan," said the then ACC Development Officer for Bhutan, Roger Binny.

Out of a population of 2.2 million, only 200 or so are active cricketers, though the numbers are rising. The biggest ground in the capital Thimphu (2.3 km above sea level) isn't quite big enough for ICC-sanctioned cricket but serves its purpose in training the national senior and youth teams. They even play in the winter months, braving intermittent sleet and snow.

Wherever they are, wherever they play, the cricketers retain a unique Bhutanese flavour. All batsmen bow their heads in supplication to the cricketing gods before taking the field."We do not pray for victory," says national captain Damber Singh Gurung, "we pray for each other to give our best and to emerge complete from the competition."

The Dechephu Lhakhang temple in Thimphu is the spiritual home of Bhutan cricket and cricketers visit before every tournament to invoke the protecting deities.

Bhutan took its place on the world stage in 2010 when it competed in the ICC World Cricket League Division Eight, winning two matches, in the group stages against Suriname and in the seventh-place play-off over The Bahamas.

The team, as evidenced by its performances in Asian Cricket Council age-group competitions, is on the up. Recent finalists in the ACC Under-15 and Under-19 Challenge Cups, it shows the virtues of good skills, sound technique and hunger for victory.

The women's game is also thriving with the Under-19 side reaching an ACC Final in Singapore in 2010.