Nepalese cricket on the climbSudipta Ananda . Kathmandu
With the Gorkhalis confirming Nepal’s place as a regional football power after an impressive run to the semi-finals of the just-completed SAFF Championship, the nation’s cricketers hope to reach greater international heights of their own.
The Nepalese national cricket team has achieved remarkable success under Sri Lankan coach Pubudu Dassanayake, whose squad is now preparing for the sixteen-team ICC World Twenty20 Qualifies in the United Arab Emirates in November. The top six teams will qualify for next year’s ICC World Twenty20 tournament in Bangladesh.
Nepal earned a spot in the Qualifier by reaching the final of the Asian Cricket Council Twenty20 Cup on home ground in April, losing to Afghanistan. They will now look to improve on their seventh-place finish the last time around and win a trip to Bangladesh.
Nepal is also making progress in One-Day cricket, having won the World Cricket League Division Three tournament in May to book a spot in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in New Zealand next year.
Binod Pandey, senior sports reporter for local daily Nagarik, thinks that Nepalese cricket is enjoying a golden era despite the lack of facilities.
‘In recent times, Nepal’s cricket team has developed very well, as they won the World Cricket League Division Four trophy, then they qualified for Division Two by winning Division Three. And they advanced to the ACC [Twenty20 Cup] final,’ he said on Thursday.
Pandey thinks that the lack of organised competition is a barrier to cricket - Nepal’s second most popular sport and the first to be registered in the National Sports Council 68 years ago - developing fully in the country.
‘The most disappointing part is that the Nepalese players get only 10 to 15 matches each year, as CAN [Cricket Association of Nepal] organises only one One-Day [competition] and one Twenty20 tournament,’ he complained.
‘Nepal have yet to introduce club cricket. There are many clubs, but they do not play cricket,’ he added.
There have been other barriers preventing Nepal’s cricketers from gaining top-level experience. National team captain Paras Khadka and vice-captain Gyanendra Malla were approached by the Gazi Tank Cricketers to play in the ongoing Dhaka Premier League, but passport troubles prevented them from accepting the offers.
‘Governing body chairman Lutfor Rahman Badal asked me to make contact with Paras and Gyanendra to play for the Gazi Tank Cricketers, but they don’t have machine readable passports so they had to refuse my proposal,’ said Kazi Tabarukul Islam Arif, a Dhaka cricket organiser currently in Kathmandu.
CAN executive member Sanjeev Kumar Pandey is still hopeful that the team will qualify for the ICC World Twenty20 despite the obstacles.
‘Football is still the most popular game in Nepal, but the cricket team has brought many achievements for the nation,’ he said.
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