Fairfax – The national cricket team of Nepal’s sojourn to Namibia was another so close so far story. Without a doubt, they played well but not well enough to reach another historical milestone in international cricket.
They had put themselves within striking distance of securing an unbelievable achievement but stumbled at the last hurdle. It was obviously a missed opportunity.
Their inability to seal the deal is what cost them. The high-pressure game against Kenya just proved too much for them to handle.
To add insult to injury, the Kenyans got the better of a demoralized Nepali outfit for the second consecutive game to finish third in the World Cup League Division Two.
In hindsight, Nepal had to pay a heavy price for their narrow loss to lowly Uganda in the opener. They bounced back with a vengeance, notching three straight wins and success appeared inevitable but proved elusive at the end.
The loss to Kenya showed how one match could instantly reverse the fortunes of a team. It was like a case of a team going through a boom and then suddenly goes bust.
From a spectator’s perspective the batting was a big let down. With the exception of a few batsmen, the rest struggled mightily with the bat in the entire competition.
The brittle batting was ultimately the reason for the demise of the team. Most of the specialist batsmen never got going and were unable to establish themselves at the crease.
Call it under performance or technical flaws or lack of confidence or poor state of mind or wrong choice of strokes or whatever; batsmen were exposed in a big way.
The opening pair was a total disaster and had no clue whatsoever when asked to do a job. Their failure put middle order batsmen under enormous pressure who struggled as well, for the most part.
The experienced duo of Captain Paras Khadka and Vice-Captain Gyanendra Malla did the bulk of batting on the team. They proved themselves with a handful of good knocks.
Malla was dogged, resolute in his batting. No wonder he was the highest run getter for Nepal.
The silver lining for Nepal was the bowling department. Had it not been the excellent, consistent work by the bowlers, the batting could have been a whole lot worse.
Hats off to bowlers for their masterful performance. They performed with aplomb and put the team in a commanding position almost in every match, except for the last two against Kenya.
Upcoming speedster Karan stole the limelight for his impressive bowling. The promising youngster was on top of his game and had a truly amazing competition.
Sensational young all-rounder Sompal could have done better but did contribute significantly, by and large. The other bowlers also managed to put up a good show.
Skipper Khadka had a memorable tournament, picking up two man of the match awards and tournament’s best player award.
Never mind the end result, in my opinion, over all, our cricketers put on a gritty show. This is not the end of the world. They should not forget that a long journey lies ahead of them.
They must take positives out of the tournament and move forward with renewed confidence and determination.
The present team is so loaded with young talents that they are capable of achieving more. With dime-a dozen outstanding emerging youngsters waiting in the wings to break through, there is no dearth of talent in the country.
The decision by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to include both Nepal and Kenya in the World Cup League (WCL) Division A has lifted the gloom of despair surrounding Team Nepal, following their disappointing fourth place finish.
This is great news for Nepali cricket. The national team rightfully deserves to be in Division A.
The coaching staff did an outstanding job preparing the boys under challenging circumstances. Now that the team is pitted against the best teams of the world in Division A, their work and responsibility has grown six- fold.
Indeed, it is a big opportunity and a bigger platform for the cricketers to showcase their skills against the very best of the best.
That being said, as things stand now, it would be unfair for us to carry exceeding expectations.
A weak domestic cricket structure, coupled with lack of facilities and administrative incompetence has stalled development for long. This has to change, sooner or later.
Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) is a giant joke. It has totally failed to act in the best interest of the game.
The politicization of CAN has done far more harm than good. Unfortunately, to this day political interference continues with no end in sight. We have to laud our cricketers who have risen to the challenge against a very challenging backdrop.
I fully agree with Captain Khadka’s statement that Nepali cricket would not be where it is today sans players’ commitment, passion and drive to achieve excellence and success.
The coaching staff must promptly address the team’s shortcomings, especially the batting department. The kind of batting we witnessed in Namibia will not help the cause of the team. Although both bowling and fielding were up to the mark, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Keeping in mind the sub-standard facilities at domestic level along with sub-standard tournaments, cricketers need more exposure to quality top-flight competitions on a regular basis.
CAN have to come up with a more methodical and systematic approach to prepare the team for the next big challenge. Otherwise, the team will likely go out with a whimper.
Going into the WCL Division A, Team Nepal’s primary objectives should be to make some kind of impact and avoid the relegation zone. Anything beyond that would be considered a spectacular result.
Time should not be wasted and we should jump start the campaign for the challenge. It is up to CAN to decide .We can only hope they do the right thing.