Cricket Himalaya/Siddhartha Barnawal
All the Nepalese Cricket fan and players had a dream, to watch on Tv the match of Nepal against the likes of cricketing giants India and Pakistan.
On one hand teams like UAE, Hongkong and oman had already tasted the flavor of playing this tournament, on the other Nepal were locking horns against them to play
Asia Cup for the first time in history. With the provision of only one team qualifying through, chances seemed difficult for Nepal, though with their recent gain of ODI status, being continuously on the field since last 1 month and their first ODI win against the mighty Netherlands, hopes were on seventh sky for team Nepal. Coach Tamata, also gave warning bell to the opponents, saying them that they have the fear of presence of Nepal, more than team Nepal, had on them.
Fake hope installed by practice match
Preparation begun in Srilanka playing practice game against some local Srilankan clubs. Winning margin of 189 & 67 runs while batting first, and 5 wickets while batting second, made all the fans feel that, new batting consultant’s strategy might click in the upcoming tournament.
Comprehensive win back to back also gave players some false sense of complacency.
Team about to play tournament of this caliber, the selection from which will present in front of Asian giants, and the team itself being an ODI nation, shouldn’t be playing against clubs anymore. We should at-least get A team or board XI from now-onwards. Team management should be compelled to consider their strategy from the practice games itself, not in the major tournament directly, which happened this time and many times before, by playing against minnows.
Beginning the campaign against Oman in a low note
After being asked to bat first, Gyanendra Malla showed some sign of return of his form, Sagar pun marked his comeback with run a ball 83, beside, again the middle order failed to show the value of their wicket. Somehow they made 221 runs on the board, thanks
to the late surge in scoreboard due to some power hitting by Karan KC. 221 which looked fighting total from Nepalese perspective, very soon seemed like below par when omani batsman played freely, rotating the strikes and hitting the boundaries.
Dampness in the pitch during 1st inning was the reason given behind the dismal performance after the match.
Disappointing performance against tournament favorites
The Only ODI of the tournament, didn’t seem at any time as the match of ODI standards. Chasing 250 + runs, Nepal were bundled in mere 176 runs. Subash Khakurel was the highest scorer who scored 50, which more than playing to compete, looked like striving to consolidate his place in the team. He consumed 94 balls in the process and didn’t look threatening to Emirati bowlers at any point of his inning.
Failure to Boost NRR against the Host
Third match against the homeside Malaysia, was fortunately the first winning points for Nepal, but without any massive boost in the net run rate after the match was reduced to 30 over per side. They tried to do something different by bringing Gyanendra Malla 1st down, and A. Shah open the inning with Subash Khakurel. None of this move was successful at the end. However Dipendra Airee and Aarif Sheikh showed some stroke of brilliance, which was more of the positive things to be carried to the next match than net run rate boost that was the demand of the situation. However tournament opened up slightly in favor of Nepal after the huge defeat of UAE against Hongkong.
Convincing win against the weakest side
Win against Singapore came convincing, but it was, too late and more like a consolation win, as on the other hand UAE made everything sure on their side to qualify to the finals.
Outside chances against Hongkong and the shattered dream
With some sleek ifs and buts chances, Nepal played its final match against Hongkong. Chances and the dreams both were shattered as the batting woes continued and team couldnt post even the 3 figure scoreline. Sandeep with his five-for created some disturbances in their run chase, but couldn’t stop them from progressing through to the finals, after other bowlers failed to capitalize on the pressure mounted by him from one end.
The team, which boasted upon its name, giving some fear to the opponents, failed even to show its presence.
Youngsters D. S. Airee, Aarif Sheikh and Sandeep performed once again. Return of Subash Khakurel and Sagar Pun made no difference in results.
However, the question of not including Binod Bhandari in playing Xi will hunt coach and captain in the coming days. Sharad’s injury and Shakti’s retirement were not something that Nepal wanted before this tournament either. The team which heavily relied on bowlers got exposed, when even their bowlers were not up to the mark.
However, with the standard we showed as a nation in this qualifier we were clearly a side who deserved to be in the Asia Cup much less than likes of Oman, UAE or Hongkong, who already were part of it in the past.
Having being said that, it was a dream that was shattered in to pieces, which new budding nation saw and wanted to make it happen that never happened before.
But as voice of cricket, Richie Benaud, would say after getting injured, cricket is a game where u should rub it and get on with it.