Nepal in Netherlands ODI series: Nepal’s ODI debut is only the beginning: Paras Khadka

While August 1 will see England play their 1,000 Test match, a feat that no other Test nation has come close to, there is another cricketing country for whom Wednesday will be historical.

At Amstelveen’s VRA Ground, Nepal  will play their landmark first ODI against Netherlands, and the veteran allrounder Paras Khadka sees the match as a new beginning. Writing in his column for icc-cricket.com, the 30-year-old highlighted Nepal’s rise from being granted affiliate status in 1988 by the ICC to attaining official ODI status a couple of months ago.

READ: Welcome to the big stage, Nepal

“This has been such a long, amazing journey for Nepal cricket but playing our first ever One-Day Internationals against the Netherlands is only the beginning. We have always wanted to get to this point but the challenge is to keep on growing. Eight years ago we were playing in ICC World Cricket League Division Five and now we are among the top 16 nations in the world, with ODI status guaranteed for the next four years,” wrote Khadka, who has been an inspirational flag-bearer for the Himalayan nation.

READ: Nepal to make ODI debut against Netherlands in August

“I hope we can keep this going and continue to grow because our next goal is to become a Test-playing country. We have worked hard for ODI status and the games against the Netherlands are opportunities for us to explore ourselves, enjoy the experience and hopefully put up good performances.”

Nepal had sealed ODI status on March 15, after they beat Papua New Guinea by six wickets in Harare during the ICC World Cup Qualifiers. Despite becoming an ODI team, Nepal will not participate in the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England as they did not make it into the Super League of the Qualifiers in Zimbabwe.

Still, for veterans such as Khadka and spinner Shakti Gauchan, who will retire after the two-ODI series against Netherlands, the journey to August 1 has been filled with unforgettable memories.

“One of the happiest days since then was the day – 27 November 2013 – when we beat Hong Kong off the last ball to qualify for the 2014 ICC World T20 in Bangladesh,” wrote Khadka. “I remember feeling very nervous. You have dreamed all these years and then it’s there in front of you. Three and a half hours away. You can make the biggest step in your cricket careers. It did take a lot out of us. We played some of our best cricket during those three matches at the ICC World T20, against Hong Kong again, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

“Then this year qualifying from ICC World Cricket League Division Two in Namibia and making it to the ICC World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe was another special moment. Those are the high points. This year has been so important for my generation of cricketers because we have worked so hard to get to this point.”

Beyond the 2019 World Cup, Khadka – who will turn 31 in October – said that Nepal cricket will go from strength to strength.

“We are already looking ahead to the qualifying stages for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023. This is a wonderful opportunity,” he wrote. “The government in Nepal are looking to help us grow and hopefully, we will have a fully functioning cricket board soon as well. If we can get all the resources together then hopefully we will have good days ahead for Nepal cricket.

As for his personal journey, he added: “I’ve been playing for 15 years and I never thought I’d get this far. But there will come a time when it is enough – it might be in six months or six years. But for now, I want to contribute as much as possible and keep pushing myself. It all comes down to setting standards and taking it from there. As a captain, it has been a fabulous journey and I hope it will continue. The most important thing is to keep performing and to help the team grow.”