Sushil Thapa, Fairfax, VA
After two sloppy, listless outings, Nepal produced a stunning performance to sweep aside Canada in the ongoing World Cup League Division Two championship in Namibia.
Finally, emerging from the shadow of mediocrity, the team came alive and turned in a superlative performance, the best so far, to put themselves in a very commanding position.
The all-important victory has significantly boosted the team’s chances to finish the tournament in the top two. The effortless manner in which they brought down Canada took me by total surprise.
Quite frankly, I had visualized the side getting involved yet in another seesaw encounter. I never in my wildest imagination thought that they would make mincemeat of their opposition.
The seven-wicket victory with half of the allocated overs remaining underscored the depth of the team. By and large, it was a concerted effort that yielded the desired result.
Having said that, it would be very unfair to turn a blind eye to the individual brilliance of Karan, Paras and Gyanendra who stood tall as they could, defying the odds.
On the day, they literally dazzled all the way to the end, elevating their game to a whole new level and ensuring that they did not let another match slip away from their grasp.
They were positive and rock solid in their temperament and approach, razor-focused on winning.
For the third straight match, the bowlers were on top of their game. The six-pronged bowling attack, consisting of spin and pace worked wonders for the team.
They maintained poise, consistency and bowled accurately and were able to shut out the opposition for 114,eventually.
The day belonged to upcoming right -arm fast bowler Karan. He bowled his very best, taking five wickets for 26 runs in 10 overs. He bowled with good pace, plenty of venom, aggression and struck at regular intervals to peg back the scoring.
Despite chasing a small total, Nepal got off to a disastrous start, losing both openers to ducks for no run on the board. The decision to move skipper Khadka and his deputy Malla up the batting order justified at the end of the day.
The experienced duo batted intelligently and steadied the ship with a robust partnership.
A day after he was selected for the MCC T20 team, Man of the Match Khadka was in full cry. Not only did he play a captain’s knock but displayed an impressive repertoire of shots.
He played a scintillating innings of 77 off 78 balls with the help of 11 fours and three towering sixes. On the other hand, Malla was in a supportive role, which he donned perfectly. He batted doggedly and remained undefeated on 32.
In the last two crucial matches against Namibia and Kenya, Nepal cannot afford to be complacent and squander the momentum it has built. The mission is not yet accomplished.
The real test will be against unbeaten Namibia on Wednesday. The batting is still not quite there and still looking very shaky.
In a nutshell, the bowlers must continue with their superb form and batsmen who have struggled mightily must peak their form in the remaining matches.