A sequence of a golden decade for Nepal
The year 2007
A determined Bangladeshi Side led by a spiritual captain, not so flamboyant against a formidable team full of legends in the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly as well as Rahul Dravid shattered the Powerhouse Indian team out of the world cup. By, no means it was an upset; rather it was the rise of youths in the likes of Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan ,MashRafe Mortaza as well as Mushfiqur Rahim who in that short frame of time, embedded the dreams of being the best at the topmost level irrespective of age or experience in the world cricket.
A new generation of cricket came into the scene by the end of 2007. The T20 world cup was commenced in South Africa with youngsters like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Gautam Gambhir, Umar Gul excelled out of the short format that took the cricketing world by storm. IPL (Indian Premier League) got inaugurated and the massive participation of youngsters gave birth to a new generation of cricket with fielding, bowling and batting upgraded and to an extreme level that the world has never seen before. It not only made India a powerhouse in all departments rather embedded a seed of young generation in each country like England, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, where an individual’s brilliance made the preceding generation overwhelmed.
2007’s Shockwaves propelled the Associate World.
The effect of those brilliant innings from Bangladesh brought a revolution to the associate world. The 2007 World Cup was able to display talented Irish side that thrashed Pakistan out of the world cup and gave ICC a proper answer about their site which was unable to see the growth and approach of Associate Cricket fans. An Associate Cricket world was so unknown that the performances of teams like Afghanistan, Hong Kong, UAE as well as Nepal never came out in the International cricket media. The steps from the Division stages that the Associate world would pile the dreams step by step was ironically displayed for the 1st time and that surely opened a floodgate for the spirited nations mentioned above.
2013 to 2017: Nepal’s dream run in the storming Associate World.
The real exhibition of Associate Cricket was displayed in the qualifiers of World T20 in the UAE, which was a part of the ICC world t20 Qualifier Series. At the end of that exciting tournament which was triumphed by Ireland (by beating another powerhouse Afghanistan) Ireland, the Netherlands as well as Hong Kong, UAE, and Nepal made their debut to the world stage.
It was more than a magic of Sharad Vesawkar with rains of sixes against Kenya that sealed the fate of Nepal team into their maiden World Cup journey since their official affiliation by ICC as Associate Nation from 1996 AD.
Then, came the moment in March the 16th 2014, when both growing nations of Associate featured themselves in the biggest stage of the world (although it was a world cup of a short format of world cricket). It all started with the National Anthem of the country where the passionate fans followed the anthem along with their heroes who helped the emotions and agony of the national anthem to reverberate all around Chittagong and the cricketing world.
The commentators couldn’t help themselves as they were compelled to follow the Nepalese beats and rhythms from left-arm spinners’ duo of Regmi and Shakti “the power” as stated by the great Rameez Raja and Danny Morrison throughout the match.
Although the next game against Bangladesh was lost, but certainly it marked a lot of competitive cricketers in the likes of captain Khadka himself followed by Gyanendra Malla, Subash Khakurel, Sompal Kami, Basant Regmi as well as Shakti Gauchan and Jitendra Mukhiya brought the cricketing spirit back in the country.
The following game staged then the arch-rivals Afghanistan has done and dusted by a magical spell of Jitendra Mukhiya with special fielding efforts from the captain Khadka himself. If you still see the video of Ashesh Neupane of that thrilling match the end celebration will bring tears and Goosebumps to see the jumping and joyous Nepalese cricket fans, always known as the 12th man of the Nepali Cricket team.
This clearly was the turning point but it’s not always what it feels, cricket is a cruel game and its cruelty was seen in the fate of Nepalese cricket to follow in the following years as they failed to qualify the next fixture of the world cup by playing the worst and modest levels of cricket.
The cricketing structures were blamed and rightly the lack of activeness of the Cricket Association of Nepal was highlighted more than ever. The year followed by the dream world cup campaign not only brought earthquake in the geographical structure but the fear brought damage in the cricketing system.
The domestic structures of this competitive game were broken and Nepali cricket was left in the state of void. That resulted in the Government interference in Cricket which directly breached the articulate set by the ICC and as a result in 2016, The ICC suspended the Cricket Association of Nepal that certainly put a break in the development of cricket in Nepal.
The year 2016: The Year of New findings in Nepali Cricket
It was the same year when Sandeep Lamichhane, a sensational Leg Spin prodigy made headlines in the ICC’s official website as “Has Nepal found another Shane Warne”? His 1st over kissed the turf and took the white ball way from Pakistani batsmen as if he was making the ball talk on his own. The highlights and replayed clearly showed the massive turn that took the whole cricketing world by surprise. It was his spell against Ireland that made him the first Nepalese bowler to take a hat-trick on the world stage at the u-19 age group. This was a script of a massive thing to follow in the later years.
It was almost the end of the year 2016 in December when Nepal- U 19 played their match against Srilanka U-19 in the Youth Asia Cup. Nobody would ever imagine the game would come to a last over after Srilankan U-19 posted a respectable 226 on board leaving Nepal 227 to chase in their quota of 50 over.
Nepal had a shaky start and they were looking uncompetitive and strangled at 112/5 in the 28th over. A partnership that followed for the 7th wicket between Dipendra Singh Airee and Avinash Karn helped Nepal reach 196 in the 45th over. It was one determined innings of the young gun Airee who took the challenge and stayed till the end before getting out in the penultimate over. He stretched the bat and took everyone by surprise but fell a run short to take the triumph of beating the U-19 of a full member nation.
Dipendra Singh Airee was left in tears but what followed after that innings was magical. Captain of the national side couldn’t control this strong emotion of his young talented players and jotted down his heart out on his blog www.paraskhadka.com titled,” Who cares?”
In his emotional phrase of a realistic column, skipper Khadka presented a series of teary eyes with a strong statement calling, “We lost by one run today. No matter how close we were, we lost.
He then praised and gave all the possibilities about what could be done to prohibit such narrow losses but towards the end of that article he presented a bold segment to end his heartfelt saying that stated,” But who is that together made up of?” The answer is simple here in my country: NOBODY CARES with caps lock not then, not now and not ever. Still, with caps lock on WHO CARES?
His emphasized blog changed the view of supporters and a floodgate was opened after this heart-pounding series of overflowing emotions. A lot of hash tags as well as statements were presented in the social media and “We Care “was a trend for several days.
Nepal then faced Namibia in their back yard and the following they got from their fans were amazing. The support enhanced so as the performances of youngsters like Binod Bhandarias well as Sandeep Lamichhane who then paved their way in the First Class level representing Nepal in the best possible manner. The experience duo of Sharad and Paras Khadka made the win in the favor of Nepalese team.
2017: A Mix year for Nepali Cricket (juniors pride VS Seniors failure)
Nepal had a mixture of year in 2017 after series of losses in the WCLC tournaments. Nepal lost the much anticipated match against Kenya in their backyard and won the next encounter with the Kenyans to take the revenge of the loss of the previous match. This was when Dipendra Singh Airee as well as Sharad Vesawkar stepped up to fulfill the absence of skipper Paras Khadka.
Then, in October Nepal travelled Hong Kong for 2 games of WCLC where they got thrashed by Hong Kong by a margin of 83 runs. Weather didn’t help their cause as the series of 2 matches where handed over to Hong Kong.
After that, Nepal played against UAE at Abu Dhabi where they lost both the games despite of great spell of fast bowling by Sompal Kami. The batting of Nepal was continuously letting them down as Paras Khadka, Gyanendra Malla and Sharad Vesawkar were out of touch and youngsters like Aarif Sheikh and Dilipnath were not cashing in the opportunities.
Hence, Nepal was placed in the group alongside Kenya, UAE, Oman, Namibia to try their fate once again to get featured in the pinnacle of the tournaments, the World Cup Qualifiers where giant test nations like West Indies and Zimbabwe are trying their fate too.
It was in 2017 at ACC U-19 Asia cup clash between India and Nepal, where Nepalese young guns captained by Dipendra Singh Airee created a history by beating Rahul Dravid Coached India u-19 by 19 runs. Captain Airee leading the damage with both bat and ball, scored 88 runs with bat and took 4 valuable wickets that earned him the most valuable Man of the Match of a cricketing event in Nepal. This was a cause that ignited the talented crew that featured in the Everest Premier League in the following month in Kirtipur in Nepal where bunch of youngsters like Rohit Kumar Poudel, Aarif Sheikh, and Karan KC were ready to show their talent to the world.
2018: Royal Rumble of the Cardiac Kids from Nepal
The national team skipper had given an exciting interview before the start of what was a serious heart punching tournament for all the weak hearts and a cardiac patient. He added sweetly with a smile in his face, “Coming February will be the Royal Rumbles in Namibia”. Less is more is what a current trend in the world is and gee what an exciting tournament it had been for Nepal.
Started the tournament in the worst possible manner by clinching the victory over Namibia with heroics from Basant Regmi and Sandeep Lamichhane until the century of the last over against UAE by the skipper Paras Khadka, this tournament had everything to offer to Namibia as a host nation.
As mentioned by Peter Della Penna towards the end of his article that the cardiac Kids of Khadka made the crowds jump in joy at the late night of winter in Kathmandu by qualifying for the World Cup qualifiers in one of the most emphatic fashion with Karan K.c. playing the innings of his life.
With Sandeep Lamichhane leading with the ball, the tournament had a unique hero everday with Basanta leading the proceedings while Karan KC, Paras Khadka and Sandeep Lamichhane following Regmi’s footmark that led to the joy for Nepalese fans and engraved the belief to advance in the pinnacle of all tournaments, the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 in England.
With the national team of Nepal national cricket team flying today by Fly Dubai, the hopes, dreams and determination to raise the flag of their nation is flying at the top of the night sky that would bring History within itself of being featured in one of the most prestigious tournament of the world. Zimbabwe will surely be a proof if Nepal could make some mark with experience players tying their shoe laces while youths being able to provide all the energies to them.
The stage is set and prayers have being sent directly to the almighty without any delay. Hence, the land of Himalaya and deities are all set to roar in Zimbabwe with every pride and prestige just one step away from the National cricket team of Nepal.