The men’s national cricket team of Nepal’s impressive and decisive victory over the United Arab Emirates in the final of the 2023 ACC Men’s Premier Cup held in Kathmandu recently is a story of comeback and redemption.
Most importantly, the incredible success is a testament to the team’s determination, resilience, grit, hard work, strength, fighting spirit and talent.
It all started with the astounding and spectacular bounce-back effort in the ICC Men’s World Cup Cricket League 2 qualifier.
As a result, they made it to this year’s 50-over World Cup qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe in June-July.
Of the ten teams in the competition, the top two advance to the championship round taking place in India later this year.
In retrospect, Nepal’s stunning comeback in the ICC Men’s World Cup Cricket League 2 qualifier was unbelievable and took the country by storm.
When all hopes of qualifying seemed lost, they managed to dig themselves out of a rut.
Prior to that, the team was in total disarray. They languished second from the bottom of the points table and faced the herculean task of turning things around.
Besides that, their ODI status was at stake, and they had to win no less than 9 matches to retain it.
Clearly, doubters far outnumbered believers when it came to Nepal’s chances of advancing to the next round.
Given the enormity of the challenge and the team’s inconsistency, coupled with fragile batting, the odds were heavily stacked against them.
They needed an extraordinarily high winning percentage to finish in the top three. The situation called for a flawless performance and complete collective effort from top to bottom to get the job done.
There was absolutely no room for mediocrity and loose play. They had to be at their best throughout.
Put simply, the batting department was Nepal’s biggest concern and challenge. It was just not good enough. The batting then was poor, weak, brittle and substandard.
Going into the last 11 matches, the team’s fortune largely hinged on batters. It was imperative that they found form, batted with authority and to their ability.
The inclusion of spinner Sandeep Lamichanne in the team consolidated the bowling attack lacking sting and incisiveness.
The two-home series provided Nepal with the advantage and a window of opportunity. It was vital that they made the most of the opportunities.
At the end of the day, as we all know, Team Nepal rose to the occasion and exceeded expectations winning 11 of their 12 matches in spectacular fashion.
It is not an overstatement to say that the appointment of Indian Monty Desai as head coach of the national team in place of the controversial Manoj Prabhakar made a world of difference.
He has already made an impact in his short time with the team. His approach, attitude, strategies, professionalism, expertise, experience and player selection have immensely benefited the team.
The vastly improved and disciplined batting, 200-plus totals scored consistently, successful run chases, consistency, individual brilliance, concerted effort, winning mindset, renewed confidence and zeal to succeed, partisan support and tidy bowling and fielding propelled Nepal to unprecedented success.
After a long interval, we witnessed the team achieve sustained good performance and success not seen in the past.
Since then it has been a remarkable streak of success for Team Nepal. They successfully carried the momentum into the ACC Men’s Premier Cup.
As it turned out, they were unstoppable and undefeatable as they put up an effortless performance to emerge champions at the cost of the United Arab Emirates.
For the young and talented skipper Rohit Paudel, it was a momentous occasion. There were individual and team records.
Upcoming left-handed all-rounder Kushal Malla reached a milestone by accounting for his first ODI century.
Spin maestro Lamichhane claimed his 100th ODI wicket to become the fastest bowler to reach the milestone in the history of Nepal cricket.
Team Nepal posted a record-breaking total of 310 runs, an all-time high in ODI.
On the heels of the phenomenal comeback, bigger challenges and formidable opponents await Team Nepal in the coming days.
The Zimbabwe and Pakistan tournaments provide them with opportunities to further prove themselves.
They are up against giants of the game in the likes of India and Pakistan in the Asia Cup 2023.
They must continue to strive for greater success, remain one hundred per cent focused and committed, ride on momentum, learn from their mistakes, stay disciplined and keep a positive outlook.
Coach Desai must keep working on the team’s winning mindset, strategies, shortcomings and instil confidence in players.
As for the team, they have the opportunity to shine and give a good account of themselves on the world stage.
They must put their heart and soul into every department of the game to make a lasting impact in the tournaments and take the game to a new level.
Every player needs to chip in equally for success to be achieved. When opportunity presents itself, be prepared to strike.
Despite the sad state of affairs, young aspirants for the love of the game and carrying dreams of one day donning the national jersey continue to take up the sport in large numbers.
Kudos to our cricketers for winning laurels for the country under challenging circumstances. Obviously, they have achieved this by the sheer dint of their hard work.
I have said it more than once-if only the Cricket Association of Nepal(CAN) had governed professionally, honestly and responsibly, the state of Nepal cricket would have been in much better shape and yielding results as desired.
That being said, there still is a lack of capability, accountability, transparency and professionalism amongst the administrators including CAN leadership. Unfortunately, for the CAN everything appears centred around position, money, perks, petty politics and vested interests.
They are culpable for maladministration and mismanagement. To put it bluntly, their failure is killing the game and players as well.
No wonder, the complete failure and radical politicization of CAN, poor infrastructures and facilities, pathetic grassroots-level cricket, and lack of funding and support from the government have eventually impeded the development of cricket.
Success is short-term and temporary.
What Nepal cricket needs is a solid foundation for sustainable growth, progress and success in the long run.
As long as CAN is governed by a bunch of unprofessional and incompetent bureaucrats and political appointees, the systemic problems plaguing the game will remain unresolved.
Until then, it would be totally irrelevant and unrealistic to dream big like receiving Test status. No doubt, Team Nepal has the potential to achieve greater heights of success.
Foremost good governance has to be established with a conducive cricket development environment. Real committed professionals are needed to manage the CAN.
An independent watchdog to keep a tab on the cricket body to make sure they do their job should be a priority.
The government must take cricket seriously and invest as per the need in infrastructure, facilities and grassroots to change the landscape of Nepal cricket in the true sense.
If the government continues to remain a mute spectator to cricket development, there is going to be a question mark over the future of Nepal cricket.