As a fan and a follower of Nepalese Cricket, A big dream was on for our national cricket team as the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2012 kicked off at the United Arab Emirates. Everybody thought it was a tough tournament but the common voice and expectation were Nepal can and will perform on the day.
The team left for UAE after a good performance in the practice matches against Indian club sides in India. Nepal was placed in Group A along with Afghanistan, Netherlands, Canada, P.N.G., Hong Kong, Bermuda & Denmark. The tournament was organized between 16 Nations to fight for the place at ICC World Twenty20 Cup 2012 to be held in Srilanka later this year.
Nepal kicked off the tournament defeating Hongkong & Denmark by 6 wickets and 9 wickets respectively. Against Denmark, first, they restricted them to 82 runs and chased with 9 wickets in hand. The performance in those matches was simply outstanding. The batters performed well, bowlers exploited the condition and even a leg break from Shakti Gauchan took the historic hat-trick against Denmark.
But then after, the bad habit proved to be the biggest unsuccessful story yet again as the team showed poor batting performances in the next two matches. They lost against Papua New Guinea and Afghanistan and it happened during the chase. The loss against Afghanistan seems to be a habit for Nepal in recent times.
That was not the end of that, third victory came eventually for Nepal as they defeated Bermuda by 24 runs. But, a poor batting performance against Netherlanders once again cost the team a LOSS. They could just manage a modest total of 85/7 in that match and lost it by 6 wickets.
Later in the tournament, Nepal had to put up a show in a must-win match against Canada and they did it with super spells of bowling to restrict them for 102/8. An easy victory was on the card but our batsmen made it hard chasing it and fell short of the target by 18 runs. That was the end of the story for the Nepalese team. It was heartbreaking news for the fans and the lovers of Nepalese cricket at home.
A mixed show by Nepal overall with less luck on their side during the group stage matches but yes, everything was over for Nepal to be a part of the 2012 World Twenty20 Cup.
However, another counting achievement was accomplished by the team before returning home. The team won the 7th place play-off and fortunately, it came against Kenya and PNG by 5 wickets and 6 wickets respectively. The team chased the total on both occasions. These last two performances may have ended on a winning note but the goal for the team is still too far. They need to put all their efforts to overcome the batting failures and need to compete against the likes of Ireland, Afghanistan, Canada, Netherlands & Scotland for reaching the big goal.
Here are the key highlights of the tournament:
- Nepal Played: 9 matches, Wins: 5 Loss: 4
- Skipper Paras Khadka was the top scorer for Nepal. He scored 254 runs with an average of 50.80 in 8 innings and scored 3 fifties(68, 65*, 62*). His highest score was 68 runs against Hong Kong. Similarly, Pradeep Airee scored 165 runs with an average of 20.62. His Highest score was 65* against Denmark.
- Shakti Gauchan was the pick of the bowler in the tournament with 16 wickets in 9 matches. He remained the third-highest wicket-taker with an average of 11.18 and Economy 4.97. His best bowling figure was 4-0-20-4 against Denmark. He also became the first Nepali bowler to take Hattrick in International T20 matches.
- Find for the team was Chandra Sawad. He along with Basanta Regmi took 11 wickets each in 9 matches. Sawad’s best bowling figure was 4-24.
- Highest team total for Nepal was 151/6 against Bermuda in which they won by 24 runs.