Cricket, the sport that has re-conquered thousands of Nepalese all around the world, was first of all introduced to Nepal by the ruling Rana Dynasty when they returned from studies in England and India in 1920s though the game was kept very much within themselves. Although Rana dynasty was the black period of Nepali politics, they started some developmental program, the establishment of Cricket Association Of Nepal in 1946 to promate the cricket amongst the aristocracy was one of them. After King Tribhuvan overthrew the Ranas from Nepali politics in 1951, cricket began to spread to the rest of the population.
In 1961 a significant effort was made to promote the game in whole nation, the Cricket association became a part of National sport council though it was limited only in Kathmandu valley. In the 80s when the nation was looking to take off in the field of development, the game speedily spread all around the nation. Many cricket grounds were established in the early 80s including TU cricket ground, unfortunately which is the only ground certified by ICC for international cricket matches in Nepal.
Looking at the infrastructure being developed all around the nation ICC announced Nepal as an affiliate member in 1988. Asian cricket council (ACC) that was founded in 1983 affiliated Nepal in 1990, which became a full member nation in 1994.
Nepali men national team played its first ever international match against Bangladesh on 6th September 1996 in ACC Trophy which Nepal lost after the match was halted in 39.2 overs. Bangladesh made good looking 213/9 in their 50 overs giving Nepal a stiff target of 214 to ensure their first ever international win, chasing this total Nepal tumbled to 90/5 in 39.2 over giving Bangladesh an easy win by fastest scoring rate as Nepal required to have scored 168 in that point of time. Nepal finished 4th in 6 teamed group beating Brunei and Japan. Sooner joy and excitement landed in the nation of mountains as International cricket council made Nepal an associate member later that year.
“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.” It has been 18 years since Nepal played their first international match and during these years they have been showing the cricketing world what they are capable off. Mehboob Alam has been the first bowler ever and the only to pick up 10 wickets haul in a limited overs cricket. Similarly, Shakti Gauchan has been the most economical bowler in the history of limited over cricket giving away just 2 runs of 10 overs that he bowled including 8 maiden and 3 wickets to his name against Malaysia in Pepsi World Cricket League Division 4. Nepal bowled out Myanmar for just 10 off 10.1 overs in 2006 ACC Trophy and chased the target of 11 in just 0.2 overs. The score of 10 was the lowest in any level of men’s international cricket.
Nepal set two records of bowling out the opponent for minimum number of runs and chasing the target in minimum overs, both in the same match. Nepal has been doing extremely well in AGE level too,they have qualified for the U19 world cup for six times since 2000,the second most by any team from non test playing origin first being Ireland for seven times, with a title of plate champions in 2006. Also National women cricket team after making their debut in 2007 are making a statement in international level.
After the arrival of the former Srilankan wicket-keeper batsman Pubudu Dasanayake as a coach in 2011,who previously ride Canada to the global arena the expectations are at peak. Nepali senior men team has been at its best in recent years, after beating their arch-rivals Hong Kong by 5 wickets Nepali cricket team made the dream of almost 2.5 million people come true making it to their first ever appearance in the global level tournament. With Nepal making it to the global arena the eyes will be on them but “As gold kept in extreme heat shines more than it used to, an athlete in pressure performs better.” With some of the spectacular talents coming to the team and the experience of seniors Nepal is eying a place in the 50 over global arena and according to cricket association of Nepal they are eying a place as a full member nation.
Article by : Binaya Subedi, he can be reached at @Cricketbinaya on Twitter.