Fairfax – Team Nepal is back in contention, following back to back wins in the ICC World Cricket League Division Two qualifiers in Namibia.
I feel very relieved for die-hard fans, who have been enduring frustration and disappointment for a considerable period of time. At least, for now, the gloom has been lifted and the smile is back on their faces.
After a well-deserved win over the United Arab Emirates, Nepal got the better of Kenya in a nail-biting finish in as many days, vaulting into second place in the standings.
Although table leaders Canada and Nepal have the same number of points(6), Canada is at the top by virtue of a better net run rate.
It has been a dramatic turnaround in Nepal’s fortunes, and things are looking up. They are well positioned and have taken one giant step toward the final qualifiers in Zimbabwe after their latest success.
As a matter of fact, Nepal did get the early momentum only to squander, however, wrested back successfully. Now it is imperative that they ride the momentum till the last ball to end on a high note.
The job, however, is far from finished and nothing can be taken for granted, especially with the vital final match against Canada.
Forgetting not, Namibia and the United Arab Emirates are in the mix, and they have a very real chance. We will have to wait and see how the competition pans out. The contest is heating up, no doubt.
It was heartening to see Nepal launch a fight back and finally show some teeth as they withstood adversity and play sensible cricket.
Skipper Paras Khadka not only ended his lean trot with the bat but, more importantly, triggered his team’s comeback.
His stellar all-round performance paved the way for his team’s victory over the United Arab Emirates.He cracked a brilliant half-century and captured a handful of wickets.
He then went to play a pivotal knock of 42 against Kenya at a time when the innings was in tatters.He has provided a fitting reply to his critics (including yours’ truly) questioning his inconsistent performance.
Khadka came under criticism for his mediocrity, tactics, and leadership on and off the field, rightly so. He has made a timely comeback for a team that heavily relies on his contributions. In the match against the United Arab Emirates, apart from Khadka’s all-round performance, the bowlers were up to their task, overshadowing batsmen.
Youngster Sompal Kami with four wickets was the leading wicket-taker, while Sandeep Lamichhane was at the top of his game, scalping a bagful of wickets.
The win over Kenya was a must for Nepal to stay in the race, and they got it done. For the first time in the competition, the winners put in a concerted effort in their hard-earned victory.
As usual, after initial hiccups and uncertainties, the subdued batting, the middle-order in particular, withstood enormous pressure to deliver the goods.
After the departure of Khadka, youngsters R K Paudel (47runs)and Aarif Sheikh (42 runs) displayed confidence, resilience, composure, and defiance, not seen before, to steady the innings and shared a crucial partnership to save the day for Nepal.
The bowlers turned in another fine performance but sensational Lamichhane stole the thunder for his outstanding performance.
In an exhibition of accurate, deceptive and stomach-churning spin he ended up with five wickets in his kitty.He was rewarded with man of the match for the second time in the competition.
Going into the last match against Canada, Nepal cannot afford to lose focus and must play with intensity, fierceness, and desire Every player on the field has to put in an extra effort and give one hundred percent.
Nepal’s batting is still a big concern. Those who have failed with the bat so far have a chance to resurrect themselves. Batting will be the key to the team’s success.