Kathmandu, February 17
National cricket team members were received as heroes at the Tribhuvan International Airport upon their arrival from Namibia after earning the berth in the World Cup Qualifiers.
Thousands of fans shouted slogans as the cricketers came out of the airport where the team was received by former sports minister Daljit Sripaili and Chief Operating Officer of Cricket Association of Nepal Chhumbi Lama.
Skipper Paras Khadka said the ICC World Cricket League Division-II will be remembered by every individual in Nepali cricket fraternity. “There were new heroes in every game and that showed that every player was excited as well as determined to win matches,” said Khadka.
Nepal earned the berth in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers after winning four matches of the league round and finished as the runners-up after a seven-run loss against the United Arab Emirates in the final match.
In the Qualifiers to be hosted by Zimbabwe from March 4-25, Nepal are in Group B along with Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Scotland and Hong Kong. Nepal will take on Zimbabwe in their first match on March 4 before taking on Scotland on March 8. Nepal will then play against Afghanistan on March 10 and take on Hong Kong two days later. Group A comprises of Ireland, the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, the UAE and the West Indies.
Top two teams from the Qualifiers will make to the ICC World Cup 2019, while Netherlands plus top three associate nations will get One Day International status for next four years. Khadka said he was happy that Nepal earned berth in the qualifiers and that the team had set the aim of playing in ODI World Cup.
“We had a bunch of young players and every individual performed when the team needed the most. Even juniors players stood up on couple of occasions and that is a good sign for the future of Nepali cricket,” said Khadka.
Nepal won nail-biting matches against Namibia, Kenya and Canada but the last league match was important for the qualifiers. “We had thought that we lost the match but hats off to Karan KC and Sandeep Lamichhane for taking the team to victory. It was not easy to score 51 runs for the last pair,” said Khadka. The Skipper added losing the final match was unfortunate.
Meanwhile, coach Jagat Tamatta said the tournament was good as Nepal took berth in the Qualifiers and that would decide the future of Nepali cricket. “We need to play good cricket in the Qualifiers to do well as that will decide our future,” said Tamatta.
Similarly, Karan KC, who scored unbeaten 42 runs and shared 51-run partnership for the last wicket with Sandeep Lamichhane to seal the victory in the must-win match against Canada, said all that happened for good reason. Similarly, Lamichhane, who was named the player-of-the-tournament, said he was happy that he could contribute for the country.
A version of this article appears in print on February 18, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.