ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier, Nepal Men, Opinion

Positives and Weakness of Nepal’s mixed performance in the Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023

After an impressive run of 13 wins in 14 ODI matches in 2023 following the appointment of Head Coach Monty Desai, Nepal, had high hopes for the Cricket World Cup qualifier held in Zimbabwe. The tournament featured Nepal in a group with host Zimbabwe, a two-time World Cup winner West Indies, the Netherlands, and the USA.

A top-three finish was required to qualify for the Super Sixes, where they would compete against the top three teams from another group consisting of World Cup Winner Sri Lanka, Ireland, Oman, UAE, and Scotland. Finishing in the top two would secure their participation in the 2023 World Cup.

Nepal started the tournament with a loss to host Zimbabwe by eight wickets. They then secured a victory against the USA by six wickets. However, subsequent defeats to West Indies by 101 runs and Netherlands by seven wickets dashed Nepal’s hopes of qualifying for the Super Sixes, thereby ending their World Cup dream for 2023. Nepal managed to bounce back and defeat UAE by three wickets, setting up a 7th-place playoff against another full-member nation, Ireland. In a close encounter, Nepal lost by two wickets.

While the ultimate goal was to qualify for the World Cup, realistically, Nepali cricket fans knew that finishing in the top two in a tournament involving strong teams like Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, West Indies, and Ireland would be a tough challenge, requiring a major upset but there was hope for qualification in Super Sixes. Although the tournament results didn’t meet expectations, there were some positives to take away.

Depth in Fast Bowling

The conditions in Zimbabwe favoured fast bowling rather than Spin. Expectations were high for the fast bowling duo of Karan KC and Sompal Kami, who were supported by young seamer Gulshan Jha. Unfortunately, Sompal Kami’s injury during the match against Zimbabwe was a significant loss for Nepal.

Nepal chose to field Karan and Gulshan in the matches against the USA, West Indies, and Netherlands and opted to go with slow left-arm orthodox Lalit Rajbanshi in place of Sompal. However, In place of Lalit, they opted for Pratis G.C. against UAE and Kishor Mahato against Ireland, who replaced Sompal Kami in the original 15-man squad. Both Pratis and Kishor showed promise and performed well, and no doubt they can deliver for Nepal when required.

Performance from Seamers

The pitch and conditions in Zimbabwe favoured the seamers Karan KC and Gulshan Jha, who played in all of Nepal’s games and delivered strong performances. Karan KC provided early breakthroughs in every game except against Zimbabwe and Netherlands, where he remained wicketless. Overall, he took 12 wickets, with four against the USA, one against West Indies, three against UAE, and four against Ireland. Gulshan Jha took wickets in every game and finished with a total of 8 wickets.

Sandeep Lamichhane’s batting

Sandeep Lamichhane, currently ranked 24th in the ODI bowler rankings, has made
significant contributions to the Nepalese Cricket Team with the ball in hand. However, this tournament will be remembered for his batting. Coming in to bat in the lower order, he played crucial innings to improve the team’s total score.

Against the Netherlands, when the Nepalese batting collapsed and only managed to post 167 on the board, Sandeep scored 27 off 33 balls with four boundaries. In the match against UAE, with Nepal struggling at 63-6 while chasing a target of 182 runs, Sandeep and Dipendra Singh Airee formed an unbeaten partnership of 79 runs in 90 balls, guiding Nepal to victory. Sandeep scored 23 runs off 37 balls with two fours, supporting Dipendra, who scored an unbeaten 79 off 85 balls.

Additionally, against Ireland, Sandeep came to bat when Nepal was 169-6. Then after two balls, Kushal Malla was dismissed. Nepal’s score then was 169-7. Sandeep formed an 8th-wicket partnership of 80 runs with Gulshan Jha. Sandeep contributed 32 runs off 30 balls with three fours and a six, helping Nepal reach a total of 268 runs at the end of 50 overs.

Despite not achieving the desired results in the tournament, there were a few other positives for Nepal, including Rohit Paudel’s captaincy, their fearless and positive brand of cricket, and the exposure they gained from facing stronger full-member nations.

However, the tournament also exposed certain weaknesses in Nepal’s performance:

Short-pitched bowling

Nepal struggled against short-pitched deliveries, as seen in their match against  Qatar in the ACC Men’s Premier Cup 2023, where they were bowled out for 157 runs in 40.3 overs. This issue haunted Nepal in this tournament also.

Richard Ngarva used short bowls in the death overs, which was the main reason Nepal
could score only 290 runs for a loss of 8 wickets in 50 overs against Zimbabwe; from the stage, they were 246-2 in 43 overs. West Indies quicks Alzaari Joseph, Jason Holder,Keemo Paul also heavily bowled short bowls, which choked Nepali batting.

The Netherlands also used the same tactics to restrict Nepal to 167. UAE’s Muhammad Jawadullah also did the same, which brought Nepal to the stage of 63/6. Nepal tackled short bowling from Ireland better than in previous matches, but it is still problematic for Nepali batters.


Forming a partnership between two batters was a big issue for Nepal. Throughout the
the tournament, there was only one instance when Nepal batters managed a partnership above 100 runs, which came in the opening game against  Zimbabwe when Kushal Bhurtel and Aasif Sheikh put together 171 runs for the first wicket.

Second Highest Partnership for Nepal was 80 runs partnership formed by Gulshan Jha and Sandeep Lamichhane for the 8th wicket against Ireland. Overall, Nepal had only seven partnerships of 50 or more runs,averaging just above one 50+ partnership in a game of 50-over format shows the regularity at which Nepal lost wickets resulting in collapses. The highest Partnership against the Netherlands was the 2nd wicket partnership of 39 runs, and at the end, Nepal were bowled out for only 167 runs inside 44.3 overs.

Despite these challenges, Nepal’s performance in the World  Cup Qualifier 2023 was a mixed bag. Many of the players never faced challenges at this level before, and Nepal was playing ODIs for the first time against full members Nation. This tournament provided an opportunity for Nepal to test themselves against stronger opponents, which exposed some of their weaknesses. It is now up to the coaches, players, and the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) to address and overcome these weaknesses.

Nepal should aim to play regularly against full member nations or their ‘A-sides to develop and gain exposure against stronger teams. Additionally, playing in foreign conditions will help them prepare for the challenges that lie ahead. The Netherlands serves as an example, as their participation in the Cricket World Cup Super League provided them with more exposure against top teams and in different conditions, leading to their qualification for the World Cup, defeating teams like West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland, and Scotland in the race of qualification.

This is only the beginning of a long journey of Nepal Cricket. Cricket World Cup Qualifiers was only the first stop of the journey. Nepal will continue to grow and reach the ultimate destination.