Well, the drama that lasted yesterday during the final of the ACC Elites trophy, the equivalent of Asia Cup for the non test playing nations of Asia, must be the closest and the most thrilling episode in Nepal's cricketing career. The espirt de corpes shown by the players, crowd in the stadium, and the cricket followers back home is in itself exciting and promising. More importantly, new generations of Nepali teens have heroes like Paras and Shakti to emaluate.
|Picture tells it all! |
courtesy Saleem Sanghati/ACC
The tie in the finale and eventually being the winner of the competition for the first time that too avoiding a defeat to the UAE only for the second time in ODIs in their own background not only depicts the statistical achievement but also points to the burgeoning confidence and mental toughness that the Nepali cricket team has begun to possess.
First of all, Nepal lacked a premier fast bowler via injury to Amrit Bhattarai and veteran Binod Das. So, Nepal had to chose to bowl first, in a pitch that looked good for batting. In the match that twisted and swayed from one side to other, at one point it seemed Nepal have given it all up after being in a good position to win the match up till the 45th over. The fragility and lack of power hitting lower mid order batsmen could have once again exposed Nepal and betray them of another hard fought victory. But, thanks to the resilience and the willingness to win, Nepal with help of a six from Gauchan and a well placed innings from Veshwakar, a good opening partnership and intelligent batting at the middle overs, achieved a tie and in doing so bagged two major titles back to back.
Among the associates nation, at least in Asia, only Nepal and Afghanistan seem to boast vivid popularity in cricket among their country men. UAE playing in their home turf were humbly outnumbered by the Nepalese audience. Afghanistan have progressed fast and developed a reputation of playing brand of 'fearless' cricket with their explosive batsmen and seriously fast bowlers. This have resulted in Afghanistan being a much better T20 side than a ODI side as the recent trend have shown. However, Nepal seems to be emerging from more conventional school of cricket. Nepalese team, it seems is trying to develop an all round team having all essential components that could perform in any condition and against any opposition.We have proper openers in Khakurel and Mandal, the middle order is sound with Malla, Khadka and Veshwakar. The lower middle order is a bit of a concern with its inconsistency and lack of muscling power. Airee seems to be the chosen finisher; however he has lot to improve on his technical aspect. Prithu being a more technically able batsmen, seems to be lost in singles in crunch overs. However both have the potential to rise to the occasion and more hard work and competition by likes of veteran all rounder Alam and youngster Bhandari will keep them in check. Similarly, handy batsmen like Gauchan, Das and Regmi always seem to give hope of Nepal scoring a bit more run, even in pressure situations. Similarly, in the bowling department Nepal has consistent spinners in form of Gauchan and Regmi. Das with his experience and Bhattarai with his aggression make a good opening combination. Similarly,players like Vishwakarma and Saud have risen through the ranks and are looking to cement their place. Nepal has widely benefited especially through skill of the skipper Khadka to fill in the spot of third seamer in spin friendly pitches and Prithu has rolled his arms over even in final overs of the match.
Photo courtesy: cricket.com.np
The success and the charisma that Nepali cricket has brought to Nepal is such overwhelming that, Nepalese seem to have forgotten the old nascent combination of former monarchs Gyanendra Shah and his son Paras Shah, even if it is for match days, Nepalese tend to substitute the image of those two via their two most solid batsmen of Nepal, Paras Khadak(C) and Gyanendra Malla (Vc) in their neurons. We can't forget that Nepal is the poorest nation in Asia and we suffer from various limitations, however none can stop us from dreaming and paving a path to better cricketing future.Lets hope, this Nepalese cricket team rises and the players of today are attributed for Nepal being a ODI nation or lets even hope bigger a proper Test playing Nation.For that a passionate set of teens of 2012 must push their seniors to perform better and create a healthy competition for a place in the squad.