Cricket World Cup (CWC) League 2 concluded on the 16th of March at Kirtipur in a dramatic fashion. Nepal pulled off an astonishing nine-run win (in the DLS method) against UAE to take the third position in the table, which secured a direct spot for Nepal in World Cup Qualifier.
Nepalese fans were distressed about losing even the ODI status, but Nepal managed to pull off an incredible comeback, grabbing the attention of the whole cricketing world. How was Nepal’s start in the tournament, and what changes worked well for Nepal to complete a terrific comeback?
A total of 126 matches were played in CWC League 2, with each set of fixtures taking place as a tri-series. Round one took place at Aberdeen in March 2019, with hosts Scotland, Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Oman facing each other. Meanwhile, Nepal played the first series in February 2020 on home soil against USA and Oman. Overall, Nepal battled in nine Tri-Series, three on home soil and six overseas. Let’s go back to Nepal’s all nine series in brief:
First Series: Nepal, Oman and USA (February 5-12, 2020, at Kirtipur)
Nepal faced an 18-run defeat against Oman in the starting match despite restricting them to 197. The home side managed to defeat the USA in the next game, posting just 190. Oman once again got better of Nepal, chasing 250 runs. In the final match, Nepal created history, wrapping up the USA for a mere 35 and chasing that total in just 5.2 overs.
Second Series: Nepal, Oman and USA (September 13-20, 2021, in Oman)
The series was a mixed bag for Nepal as they grabbed a couple of wins in this series, one each against both teams. At the end of the series, Nepal had four wins from the eight matches.
Third Series: Nepal, PNG and UAE (March 15-22, 2022, in UAE)
This was the first series under Sandeep Lamichhane’s captaincy. Nepal managed to beat PNG in both matches; however, they were stunned by the hosts in both matches, failing to chase 169 and 203 runs. Nepal were bowled out for 103 in the last match of the series, their lowest-ever total in ODI so far.
Fourth Series: Nepal, Oman and USA (June 8-15, 2022, in USA)
Nepal managed at least four points (two wins) from the previous series. However, Lamichhane’s crew could add only three points. They defeated Oman in one match while the match against the USA was tied, chasing 275 runs.
Fifth Series: Nepal, Namibia and Scotland (July 10-17, 2022, in Scotland)
Nepal were losing momentum in the series. They defeated Scotland for the first time in ODI, which was the only victory for them in the series. This was the crisis period for Nepal national team; they couldn’t even cross 200 runs mark in the entire series. Moreover, they failed to chase the target of 221 and 200 against Namibia. Nepal had just 17 points from 20 matches after the conclusion of the Scotland tour.
Sixth Series: Nepal, Namibia and Scotland (December 1-8, 2022, in Namibia)
In the absence of Sandeep Lamichhane, this was Rohit Paudel’s first CWC League 2 series as a captain. This probably was the most disastrous series in the CWC League 2 campaign. Nepal were winless and yet again couldn’t cross the 200-run mark in the series. Nepal were second from the bottom in the table and on the verge of losing the ODI status. Having just 18 points from the 24 matches, Nepal needed at least nine wins from the remaining three series to save the ODI status.
Seventh Series: Nepal, Namibia and Scotland (February 14-21, 2023, in Nepal)
With the arrival of Monty Desai, This series was Nepal’s redemption series. Sandeep Lamichhane was also permitted to play in the series after being out on bail. Nepal managed to win all four matches creating several records. The home side recorded the highest ODI total, chased the highest target and a few more.
Eighth Series: Nepal, UAE and PNG (February 27 – March 3, 2023, in UAE)
Nepal defeated PNG on both occasions and stunned UAE once to register three triumphs in the series. Three victories in the penultimate series made sure Nepal were alive in the top three race. Nepal bagged three wins in an away series for the first time in CWC League 2, which ensured Nepal were in great momentum under the coaching of Monty Desai. After a brilliant series, another 100% result in the home series could sail Nepal to Zimbabwe for a World Cup qualifier.
Ninth Series: Nepal, UAE and PNG (March 9-16, 2023, in Nepal)
Four wins in Four matches in front of the home crowd, and Nepal were in for the World Cup Qualifiers. The start was exactly how Nepalese fans wished for, as the home side posted the highest-ever ODI total and also retained the ODI status surpassing the USA in the table. Once on the verge of losing the ODI status, Rohit Paudel’s crew were eying the third position. Nepal bowled out UAE for 71 and registered the biggest win (in terms of runs) in the next match, followed by the second biggest win (in terms of balls remaining) against PNG after chasing the target in just 7.4 overs.
It all came down to the last match at TU Cricket Ground, the whole of Nepal was excited for the decisive match against UAE on the 16th of March. Even people outside Kathmandu valley reserved the bus and visited Kiripur to witness Nepal’s match. As a result, TU Cricket ground saw probably the biggest ever crowd. UAE, on the other hand, had nothing to lose as they were fixed on finishing sixth. The whole stadium was nervous after UAE posted 310 runs on the board, the first-ever 300+ score in ODI against Nepal.
The nervousness turned into tension as Nepal lost two wickets within the second over, followed by skipper Rohit Paudel in the seventh over (37/3 in the seventh over). A slight drizzle and then irrelevant time-wasting from the visitors made the home crowd furious as Nepal were behind in the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method’s par score. UAE started changing the field placement continuously, regularly bowled pacers despite remaining overs from spinners and fielders deliberately came to talk with the bowlers after every ball.
UAE’s action backfired when Gulshan Jha smacked Muhammaed Waseem (part-time medium pacer) for 20 runs in the 42nd over. The play was called off by the umpires at 5.37 p.m. local time because it was too dark to continue, with Nepal trailing by 41 runs with six overs and four wickets left. As per the DLS calculations, Nepal’s target at that point was 260, but they had got to 269; hence, they were proclaimed the winners by nine runs.
Nepal surpassed Namibia (39 points) and finished third on the table after a dramatic win. Despite having just 18 points from 24 matches, Nepal came back well and registered 11 wins from the last 12 matches. Courtesy – Monty Desai, his happy dressing room mantra and especially the hard work and never giving up attitude of the players.