Nepalese women left the country for a seemingly impossible mission, ACC Women’s T20 Cup, featuring one of the best women cricket team in the world-India, Sri Lanka , Pakistan and Bangladesh. Nepal grouped alongside Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and the elite cup runner up China, where Nepal had ended fourth last year. Nepalese cricket fans definitely see this as a very disappointing trip, perhaps the worst ever, with all loses and very little performance to cheer for. Bowling and Batting both seemed rusty and way below the par.
What was wrong?
Nepalese women team has achieved a lot since its conception, so the expectations were quite high. It was playing the biggest tournament ever but the fate of the team was probably already defined way before the tournament.
World Cup Window
The strong teams with ODI status-India, Sri Lanka , Pakistan and Bangladesh had not qualified into the knock out rounds of the Women’s T20 World Cup, held in Sri Lanka earlier this month. These teams thus seemed apparently weaker, giving the cricket team (and cricket fans) a slight hope that they could pull off the ‘giant killing’ legacy, previously an attribute of Nepal U-19 cricket team, and come home with win(s) against the best(but apparently weak then) women teams. But that would have never happened; Nepal qualified for the tournament being fourth in the ACC Elite T20, and thus was weakest of all teams. From a zero gravity perspective these losses would seem very normal
Pre-tournament training and team announcement
One can’t stress this enough “This was the biggest tournament that Nepali women would have participated in.”
There was a regional level cricket tournament just a month before the tour, and team was announced 4 prior to the departure and 8 days before the tournament. For anybody who follows international cricket and knowing that there were not many new faces in the team, 8 days would seem perfectly fine, but those other teams have 8-12 series in a year. For Nepal, this was the only and biggest tournament for a whole year. Nepal has never before played against the Test playing Nations, and just a month’s practice for the biggest tournament ever was just not enough.
The team was named with just a few new players so one would assume the adjustment would not take time. The team went into the tournament with a New Captain Rubina Chhetri. The players were fresh of regional rivalry; the team did not have any match practice either; its matches that carve a team from bunch of players to a unit, and this was lacking in the team and was tinted the most in the final game when 5 of the batsmen got run out.
What went wrong?
We got the cricketing basics wrong. The team in every match out cased a very ordinary batting and bowling performance in the tournament.
The age old batting woes
What is the Problem with the Nepali Cricket? 9 out of 10 times one’s going to tell you batting. The same old problem, only this time it was worst. None of the batsmen were able to bat. Nepali team lost 28 wickets in tournament and 2 of the three times were knocked over before the team total could crawl to 50. Nary Thapa, former captain top scored for Nepal in the tournament just 25 runs and remained not out in two of the games. Sita Rana Magar was the only other batsmen to cross the 20 run mark scoring 22 in the tournament. The entire team scored only 5 boundaries in the whole tournament
There weren’t any batsmen that could stand up and take the responsibility and bat. Batsmen would often get sight start and throw it away a huge question on the batsmen temperament.
Rubina’s 4 wickets against the mighty Lankans in the first match were the only thing Nepalese fan could cheer about. Rubina ended the tournament with 5 wickets. It was all downhill form them for the bowling front as well. They weren’t much helped by the batsmen in the second game setting up a target of 46 for Banglasesh, score that was impossible to defend. The final game was pretty ordinary for the Nepalese bowlers, getting only two of the Chinese batsmen out.
Nepalese bowlers were able to snap only eleven wickets (five of them to Rubina) in the tournament. Sonu Khadka(two wickets), Kuruna Bhandari(two wickets), Neera Rajopadhyay(one wicket) S Magar(one wicket) being the other wicket takers.
It was indeed a sorry tournament for the Nepalese cricket being defeated comprehensively in all three of the games. Guangzhou seems to be an unlucky ground for the Nepalese women team (just as UAE seems to be lucky grounds for men’s team). The last time they played here was in Asian games where they were defeated by Japan, considered much weaker than Nepal twice. Unlike this time Nepali Women’s team then went into the tournament with hopes of medal but returned disappointed empty handed, just as this one.
The silver linings
It’s not all wrong with this tournament, these disappointments and the defeats will only groom to the national team. We should never forget that for Nepal it still much a learning phase. Nepal gained a priceless opportunity to play with test playing nations. The tournament certainly gave a clear idea that there is still a lot to work on to be able to battle with the best in the world.
This tournament will help the team to groom and grow as a unit, also in the first game, the team was able to give the Lankans run for the game and that game will certainly give the team immense amount of confidence in the upcoming days.
The defeats have gotten us talking, talking about the practices and games. May be next time we go into a tournament the team will get enough training and match practice.
Note: Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka Women have test playing status, it would be surprising for the viewers to know that Netherland and Ireland women have test status as well. J Bangladesh is yet to get a test playing status.
Upreti as an intern writer at Cricnepal.