Let’s revisit cricket journey of Nepal
Under Dassanayake, Nepal progressed from Division 4 to Division 2, marking an era of remarkable growth in their cricketing journey
Nepal lost the Asia Cup game against India and Pakistan, but there were many positive takeaways. The exposure, experience and attention that Nepali side got in the tournament was our achievement.
From losing a game against the Kenyan national team last year to playing against cricket giants and putting up a respectable fight, this team has grown a lot.
Former President of Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) Binay Raj Pandey said that Nepal’s performance is something to be proud of. “It was good to see Nepal play against India, after 20 years the dream has come true. All Nepalis are proud of Nepal’s performance against India and Pakistan," he wrote on Facebook.
Nepali cricket commentator Sachin Timalsena said that the foundation was laid when the Nepali team played against India. He took to X and said, “It takes time, this was the beginning. The foundation is laid, now to add to it. Well done Nepal”'
Nepal’s triumph in the ACC Men’s Premier Cup, 2023, where they competed against 10 teams and ultimately defeated UAE in the final, stands out as a memorable achievement. It also helped Nepal gain its spot at the Asia Cup 2023.
Reflecting on this success, Monty Desai, Nepal’s head coach, told journalists: “I can never forget the day when we clinched the finals and secured our spot in the Asia Cup. It was a very dramatic two days of finals. What excited me most about playing in the Asia Cup was the way we won the final. It was the result of hard work, meticulous planning, flawless execution of roles, and the risks we took.”
However, the journey leading up to the Asia Cup was far from straightforward.
From Division 5 to ODI status in eight years
In 2010, Nepal hosted the ICC World Cricket League Division 5 tournament, which they won, earning them a promotion to Division 4. Two years later, in 2012, Nepal triumphed in the ICC World Cricket League Division 4 tournament, securing a promotion to Division 3. Nepal’s cricket journey continued on an upward trajectory, with another victory in the 2014 ICC World Cricket League Division 3, earning them promotion to Division 2. Unfortunately, due to a drop in performance, Nepal faced relegation back to Division 3 but persevered to return to Division 2.
The turning point came in the 13th match of the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 in 2018. Nepal and Canada battled it out. The stakes were high as both teams aimed to secure a spot in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers. Initially, Canada appeared to have the advantage, but a pivotal moment occurred when Nepal’s final batting pair displayed incredible resilience, forging a crucial partnership that carried Nepal to victory. At that moment, optimism soared, marking a potential turning point for Nepal. It’s worth noting that the rise of young cricketers played a significant role in Nepal’s success, ultimately leading to their recognition as an ODI nation, a remarkable achievement.
During this period, the International Cricket Council (ICC) suspended the CAN in April 2016 due to concerns about the dual existence of cricket governing bodies in Nepal and government interference in elections. The ban was lifted in Oct 2019. Meanwhile, Nepali cricketers faced dire financial circumstances, with minimal income. The day after the ICC lifted the CAN ban, longtime skipper Paras Khadka, who had led the team for a decade since 2009 and one of the country’s most successful cricketers, resigned from his captaincy role.
Speaking to journalists, Khadka said: “The team had experienced numerous highs and lows during a period of three years without institutional guardianship.As the CAN has new leadership, a fresh start in Nepali cricket is necessary.”
When did cricket start in Nepal?
Nepal’s national cricket team that took part in their inaugural international competition back in 1996.
Cricket found its way to Nepal through the influence of the Rana aristocracy, who received their education from the British Empire in India. In 1946, the Cricket Association of Nepal was established.
By 1961, the association had become a part of the National Sports Council within the Ministry of Sports, and it embarked on a mission to promote cricket throughout every nook and corner of Nepal. It was in 1988 that Nepal achieved affiliate membership status with the ICC, although cricket was primarily confined to the Kathmandu valley during that period.
Nepal made its debut in international cricket in 1996 when they faced Bangladesh in the ACC Trophy. Since then, they have consistently performed well in the Associate cricket circuit. Notably, they achieved victories over Pakistan and Bangladesh in the 2002 Under-19 World Cup and secured the plate championship in the 2006 Under-19 World Cup, defeating formidable opponents like New Zealand and South Africa.
A significant milestone for Nepal came in 2014 when they qualified for the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. During the tournament, they even registered wins against Afghanistan and Hong Kong. Nearly a decade later, their entry into the Asia Cup marked another significant achievement.
While many have played pivotal roles in Nepal cricket, two standout figures are Roy Dias and Pubudu Dassanayake. Dias coached the team for nearly nine years, during which Nepal finished as runners-up in the 2002 ACC Trophy and won the ACC Fast Track Countries Tournament in 2006.
The former skipper Khadka acknowledges the guidance of Coach Dassanayake. “We knew there were significant opportunities ahead of us, but we didn’t know the exact path to take. Coach Dassanayake came and showed us the way.” Under Dassanayake, Nepal progressed from Division 4 to Division 2, marking an era of remarkable growth in their cricketing journey.
Former Nepali skipper Paras Khadka with his teammates, before the match that gave Nepal ODI status.
Nepal’s dedicated fans have served as an unwavering support system for their cricket team, accompanying them through all the highs and lows of their journey. The image above vividly illustrates the immense passion that every Nepali cricket fan holds for the game, making it a truly captivating sight.
Pictures of Nepali supporters perched in trees while watching the games showcase the extraordinary lengths to which these fans go to support their team.
Cricket commentator and analyst Aakash Chopra wrote on X : “India must adopt Nepal cricket and make it their responsibility to bring them up to speed with international cricket. Send the A team to Nepal. Involve them in India’s domestic structure. The passion for cricket in Nepal is unparalleled… and they have the potential too.”
Former skipper Khadka once said that Nepali batsmen struggled with pacers as they had never gone with cricket giants and faced bowling with 145+ kmph speed. “But with the unbelievable talent and hard work, we started facing them easily,” he said. “If we get a bit of support from other cricket playing nations then we will see many cricketers shining on the world stage. We just need the best platform for our players,” he said.
Coach Desai has been orchestrating the ‘Happy Dressing Room’ initiative with the aim of fostering unity among the Nepali team. As part of this program, he presents medals within the dressing room to commend the outstanding performance of players following the game.
A similar occurrence took place following the match against India. Desai extended an invitation to the Indian players, inviting them into Nepal’s dressing room to honor the Nepali players who had performed exceptionally well in the match against India.
In a video released by the CAN, Sompal Kami from Nepal can be seen receiving a medal from the Indian all-rounder, Hardik Pandya. Also, Desai requested Indian batsman Virat Kohli to bestow a medal upon Aasif Sheikh, who had scored a half-century against India. The video also captures Indian coach Rahul Dravid presenting a medal to Dipendra Singh Airee. These gestures definitely motivate the team.
Coach Desai also shares a similar perspective with former skipper Khadka and analyst Chopra. Upon his arrival in Nepal, he advocated for Nepal’s participation in India’s domestic cricket tournaments, particularly the Ranji Trophy. He expressed his intent to encourage the ICC and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to support Nepal’s cricket growth.
Desai says “Just as neighboring countries like Scotland and Ireland are allowed to compete in England, Nepal should also be granted a similar opportunity.” “This step could potentially pave the way for Nepal to attain Test-playing nation status within the next four years.”
“Most of our players are in the age range of 20 to 25. I believe we’ve pinpointed a central nucleus of talent that will contribute to the team’s success over the next four years. There may be a need to fine-tune one or two positions as we progress, but overall, I’m confident that this core group is a valuable asset for the national team and the entire nation,” Desai says.
Dec. 2, 2023, 9:01 p.m.
Dec. 2, 2023, 8:39 a.m.
Dec. 1, 2023, 9:12 a.m.
Nov. 30, 2023, 9 a.m.
Nov. 29, 2023, 9:37 a.m.
Nov. 29, 2023, 9:34 a.m.
Nov. 28, 2023, 4:25 p.m.
Nov. 28, 2023, 11:13 a.m.