Thu, 28 May, 2020

Nepal's Journey And Struggle In Modern Day Cricket

By Amun Kharel

On 16th March, 2014, Nepal made its 1st world cup appearance which was held in Bangladesh. This was undoubtedly the best sporting moment for the country with only little cricketing facility and which was only registered to play cricket by ICC in 1988. But Nepal being in the tournament was inevitable as such a rapidly growing team. Nepal cricket team had never disappointed in any tournament they had played. They fought bravely and reminded of the brave Gorkhalis who fought in some of the most glorious battles Paras Khadka, the captain of the Nepalese team, carried the hope of someday representing the country in the biggest stage, started from the bottom. He started captaining Nepal from the World Cricket League Division 5and he successfully led Nepal to victory in the tournament which was the beginning of a journey which carried hopes of millions of Nepalese cricket lovers. There is nothing like the sight of seeing your country playing in one of the biggest stages of cricket. But there is an entire background story to how the country made it to such top level tournament. One of the best cricket matches ever for a Nepalese fan was between Hong Kong and Nepal which was the last T20 qualifier match for Nepal held in UAE where Nepal defeated Hong Kong in a thriller with a ball to spare and made it to the T20 world cup held in Bangladesh. Fortune favored the brave Gorkhalis. In the previous T20 qualifier, Nepal was ranked seven but Nepal qualified with 3rd spot in the qualifier held in UAE. It was big leap for Nepal. Nepal didn’t disappoint in the T20 world Cup, In fact they won the two matches against the mighty Afghanistan and Hong Kong but the format of the tournament did. Nepal had to play with the same two teams they battled in the qualifier and defeated both of them. Nepal never got a chance to play with the top cricketing nations as they lost with the home team. Only a team qualified from the particular group which Bangladesh did. “Here is the brave Nepalese captain. Pareas Khadga.”, Danny Morrison said in a funny accent. It was interesting and overwhelming to see how top commentators of the world were struggling to get the correct pronunciation of the Nepalese players. Nepal started out by playing with the same team they defeated in the nail biting encounter in T20 qualifier which was broadcasted in TV channels we grew up watching classic cricket matches. Nepal started out slow and run rate determined Nepal was nowhere near the flying start but it was a slow pitch. Soon Gyanendra Malla and Paras Khadka realized it and steadied the ship and took Nepal to a respectable score of 149. It was no fairy tale start for Nepal until Shakti Gauchan started to rip off the stumps of the Hong Kong players one by one. The entire Nepal jumped with Shakti Gauchan in the air. Loadshedding was no problem for Nepalese people to experience such transcendence of sports. People gathered in streets and watched the match. Even if the TV was only 21 inch, it didn’t matter to Nepalese people, the experience did. It was euphoric. Gorkhalis started to strike the fear in the heart of the opponents. The home supporters which even didn’t care about watching the game against the associate nation were worried by their form and the spirit of team Nepal. The supporters of Bangladesh gathered in large number to watch the second and the most decisive game of the group stage as the home side had already defeated Afghanistan comfortably in the earlier game. Nepal lost the game but Nepal made Bangladesh struggle for every wicket and every single run. Nepal was no short of spirit even after they lost the game. The chance of Nepal qualifying to the main event was slim. Bangladesh had to lose the game with Hong Kong by a big margin and Nepal had to win Afghanistan with a considerable margin. It was pretty much unlikely for Nepal but the Gorkhalis never played like they were done. The performance against Afghanistan was one of the best of the tournament. The quality of catching, the pace in the ball from Sompal Kami and fighting spirit of the team was nothing sort of world class. Even the South African great Jonty Rhodes who was commentating on the game was surprised to see such quality on an associate team. Dirk Nannes, a T20 bowling legend of Australia, put some really nice words for Nepal after the game. Many cricketing pundits wished for bright future of this brave team. The world noticed the resilience of the Gorkhalis once again. Nepal returned regaining the pride and glory in the Tribhuvan National Airport which they had lost a long time ago due to continuous struggle with political instability. They gave hope to Nepalese people; sports as a medium to take country to the next level. The current T20 qualifier was a huge failure from the previous one and the frustration of Nepalese people is permissible and all the critical response is justified; but expectation kills. If Nepal had never made it into the T20 world cup last time, such aggression towards the team would have never been aroused. It is necessary to remind people of such glorious moments. The current batting line of the Nepalese team seems jinxed and is unable to get out of the hoodoo of the losing streak. The support from home would be really helpful to the wounded warriors who had a long hard season in the swinging conditions of Ireland. Maybe it is a silver lining. We hope Nepal will soon begin to play quality cricket again and will once again show the world what we are capable of.