Home > Features >

Welcome to the big stage, Nepal

This was Nepal's first victory over Afghanistan in T20s © AFP (File Photo)
This was Nepal’s first victory over Afghanistan in T20s © AFP (File Photo)

Nepal shocked the world by defeating Afghanistan in the ICC World T20 encounter. Abhishek Mukherjee welcomes world cricket’s new surprise package.

There has been a lot of hullabaloo — with reason, one must agree — over granting Ireland and Afghanistan Test status. Both teams have performed commendably: Ireland, by beating Pakistan, Bangladesh, and England across two World Cups; and Afghanistan, by rising through the ranks at a breakneck pace.

Nobody cared about cricket in Nepal. Till recently Nepal only appeared in quiz books for its lofty mountain peaks, for being the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, and for being the only country in the world whose flag is not rectangular in shape; when Mahaboob Alam had entered the Guinness Book of World Records for being the “earliest bowler to take all 10 wickets in an ICC international cricket match with limited overs” the news had passed almost unnoticed.

But Nepal braved on; unlike some of the other cricket-playing Associate Nations their side does not consist of non-residential Indians, Pakistanis, and Sri Lankans — which put them on the same status as the Irish or the Afghans. However, what held them behind was their lack of consistent performances that held them back from locking horns with the finest.

But the Nepalese battled on, making it to the top level in the shortest format of the sport: they brushed aside Hong Kong easily with Gyanendra Malla and captain Paras Khadka adding 80 in 67 balls and Basant Regmi and Shakti Gauchan picking up six for 23 between them to rout Hong Kong for 69.

Minnow-bashers, the sceptics said. Anyone can beat Hong Kong, they added: what went ignored was the stupendous margin of victory. They lost the match against Bangladesh despite quality performances from Khadka (whose wristy batsmanship makes him a delight to watch) and Sharad Vesawkar, who added 85 in 69 balls and an excellent spell from Regmi.

Thus, when Nepal took on Afghanistan, they arrived with a point to prove. This time Khadka failed, but a patient innings from Subash Khakurel and some lusty blows from Gyanendra Malla and Vesawkar saw them to a decent 141 for five. The real job, however, remained: could they contain Afghanistan, who had beaten Bangladesh in the recently concluded Asia Cup?

The collapse began when Sompal Kami unleashed a skidder to take out Karim Sadiq; Jitendra Mukhiya and Gauchan struck twice each in quick succession, and the Afghans were soon reeling at 50 for five after nine overs. Shafiqullah Shafiq hung on resolutely, as did Samiullan Shenwari, and when the 19th over started Afghanistan still required 30 runs.

Then Mukhiya unleashed one of those magic overs that converted possible victories to triumphs: three yorkers, three low full-tosses, six runs, one wicket; it was straight out of the books of Lasith Malinga — and a trick that has remained elusive of Indian bowlers from some time now.

Whatever followed was supposed to be irrelevant: Asghar Stanikzai tried his best to pull off a miracle, but after scoring 14 off the first four balls from Kami he holed out to long-on. Nepal went on to win by nine runs.

They may not go through to the next round (the nigh-impossible incident of a massive Bangladesh defeat against Hong Kong being the prerequisite for that to happen), but Nepal has already done enough to set tremors down the spines of the elites of the sport.

Ireland and Afghanistan had already arrived on the big scenario: it may be too early to say that a third name has joined the clan, but Nepal have their way up the ladder in a determined, hard-working fashion that has won the hearts of the viewers of the tournament. It may also be the first major step for Nepal cricket towards their ascent among the big guns.

Watch out, cricket: the Nepalese are here.

 (Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

ICC World T20 2014 Points Table and Team Standings

ICC World T20 2014 Schedule details

World T20 League 2014

Sep 21, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Sep 21, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Sep 22, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Bengaluru

World T20 League 2014

Sep 23, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Raipur

World T20 League 2014

Sep 24, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

More

World T20 League 2014

Sep 20, 2014  at Mohali

Kings XI Punjab won by 4 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 20, 2014  at Mohali

Perth Scorchers won by 6 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 19, 2014  at Raipur

NK won by 33 runs (D/L method)

World T20 League 2014

Sep 18, 2014  at Mohali

Kings XI Punjab won by 5 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 17, 2014  at Hyderabad

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 3 wkts

Photos

KXIP vs Hobart Hurricanes, Match 2 CLT20 2014

Videos

Anderson plays golf with Jaguar competition winners

CLT20 2014: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Lahore Lions (LL), Match 7: 5 Key battles

Before Mitchell Marsh, Surinder Amarnath had hit sixes off last two balls to win a match in England

James Franklin: Barbados Tridents have youngsters who can win games

Kings XI Punjab vs Barbados Tridents, Match 5, CLT20 2014: Highlights

CLT20 2014: Mitchell Marsh stakes his claim for a spot in Australia’s ICC World Cup 2015 squad with late blitz for Perth Scorchers against Dolphins

Asian Games Asian Games 2014 Champions League T20 2014 Chennai Super Kings CLT20 CLT20 2014 CSK vs KKR Hobart Hurricanes India at Asian Games 2014 Kings XI Punjab Kolkata Knight Riders Northern Knights

CLT20 2014: We need to work on our fielding, says Barbados Tridents’ Raymon Reifer

Akshar Patel: David Miller’s words boosted my confidence

Durham ‘Breese’ to final win over Warwickshire in county One-Day Cup

Shahid Afridi to quit other formats to focus on T20s

Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi says his team are not afraid of Mitchell Johnson

Ravi Rampaul: Barbados Tridents were successful in CPL due to good team-work

CLT20 2014: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Lahore Lions (LL), Match 7: 5 Key battles

Before Mitchell Marsh, Surinder Amarnath had hit sixes off last two balls to win a match in England

Nip Pellew — one of the greatest fielders of all time

James Franklin: Barbados Tridents have youngsters who can win games

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

669 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) vs Hobart Hurricanes (HH) CLT20 2014

World Alzheimer’s Day 2014: Every 68 seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

2,100 Microsoft employees axed worldwide in round two of 18,000-employee layoff

Rani Mukerji promotes Make Way for Ambulance campaign – View pics!

3 things we don’t want to see in Salman Khan’s Bigg Boss 8!

Electric car breaks 200 mph barrier to set new land speed record

Now, ‘Making Sense of Sugar’ campaign will debunk sugar myths

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here