After a dramatic turnaround, including a final-day thriller at TU Cricket Ground, Nepal national cricket surpassed Namibia and finished third in the CWC League 2 table. Nepal joined Scotland and Oman as teams to get a direct ticket for World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe.
A total of ten teams will compete in the World Cup Qualifier: the bottom five from the 2020-23 World Cup Super League (excluding World Cup hosts India), the top three from the 2019-23 World Cup League 2, and the top two from the 2023 World Cup Qualification Play-off. Two teams will advance to the World Cup via this tournament.
Nepal featured in the 2018 World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe, The gateway to Cricket World Cup 2019 in England. Like the current format, Ten nations battled for the two spots in the Mega Event. The bottom four teams in the ICC ODI Championship ranking were joined by the top four teams from the 2015–17 ICC World Cricket League Championship and the two finalists of the 2018 ICC World Cricket League Division Two for the qualifying tournament. Nepal entered the tournament being the champions of Division Two.
Teams were split into two groups, with Nepal being in Group B alongside Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Scotland and Hong Kong. Nepal didn’t have an ODI status; hence the matches were considered List A. How was Nepal’s performance in the Tournament?
First Match vs Zimbabwe: The hosts slammed Nepal by 116 runs after Sikandar Raza’s sensational all-round performance. Brendon Taylor’s century and Raza’s 66-ball 123 helped Zimbabwe post 380 on the board. In reply, Nepal could manage only 264 runs. Sharad Vesawkar and Aarif Sheikh scored a half-century each for Nepal.
Second Match vs Scotland: Nepal faced a four-wicket loss against Kyle Coetzer’s side. A lone effort from Paras Khadka (63 runs) guided Nepal to 149 before being wrapped up in 47.4 overs. Scotland chased the target with an 8.3 overs spare after an unbeaten 88 runs from the skipper himself.
Third Match vs Afghanistan: Nepal’s super six dreams shattered as they were handed the third defeat in a row. Once again, Paras Khadka’s solo effort (75 runs) helped Nepal post 194 runs on the board. The average target was accomplished by the Afghan side in 38.4 overs.
Fourth Match vs Hong Kong: Nepal registered their first victory in the last group stage match. Hong Kong were wrapped up for 153 after Sandeep Lamichhane’s three wickets and two each from Karan KC and Basant Regmi. Rohit Paudel’s unbeaten 48 secured the win for Nepal with a 9.2 overs spare.
The top three associate teams of the tournament would get the ODI status till 2023. As the Netherlands already had ODI status till 2023, Nepal’s win against PNG and Dutch team’s victory over Hong Kong would seal the ODI status for Nepa for the first time in their cricketing history. Things went exactly how Nepal wanted.
Fifth Match vs PNG: Nepal wrapped up PNG for 114 in 27.2 overs and chased the total in just 23 overs in the playoff match. Dipendra Singh Airee was the star of the match, picking up four wickets and scoring an unbeaten 50 runs. Nepal secured the ODI status for the first time after Netherlands’ win over Hong Kong.
Sixth Match vs Netherlands: After securing the ODI status, Nepal finished eighth in the tournament after being defeated by the Dutch team in the 7th place playoff. Despite restricting them to 189/9, Nepal managed only 144 runs and fell 45 runs short. Sompal Kami picked up four wickets and scored 36 runs in the losing cause.
Afghanistan went on to win the tournament defeating West Indies in the finals (both teams qualified for the World Cup). Zimbabwe finished third, followed by Scotland (retained ODI till 2023) and then Ireland. UAE (retained ODI till 2023), Netherlands and Nepal finished in sixth, seventh and eighth position respectively. Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong finished in the ninth and tenth position leading to a relegation to Division 2 and also losing the ODI status.