Rising stars

The Nepali cricket team returns home today after a bittersweet performance at the 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in the US and West Indies. But at the same time, it has sent an unmistakable message to the world: “We have arrived!”

Nepal has technically not won a single group stage match at the World Cup. The only point it achieved was a draw with Sri Lanka after the match had to be abandoned due to rain. The match with Sri Lanka was certainly the most anticipated match considering they were a relatively weaker side in the group and Nepal had a great chance to take both points. But Nepal was not looking for the weakest. Rather, it was there to take on the strongest cricketing giants. In the other three matches – against the Netherlands, South Africa and Bangladesh – Nepal gave their opponents ample evidence of its arrival on the global cricket scene.

The most exciting performance was of course against South Africa, when Nepal lost by just one point. But even despite the narrow loss, it won many hearts and accolades after giving a top Test cricket playing nation ranked third in one-day internationals and fifth in T20 internationals a run for its money. The Netherlands and Bangladesh could also not take Nepal for granted. What was equally gratifying was the strong presence of Nepalese cricket fans cheering on Team Nepal. Nepalese fans not only filled stadiums from Texas to Florida to St. Vincent, they even cheered when their team lost. This was not only due to a strengthening spirit of sportsmanship but also the confidence that we are continuing to rise as a cricketing nation.

However, there is still a lot of work to be done at home. The men in blue and red might want to work on their batting skills, as that’s where we flatter the most this time. After assessing their World Cup odyssey, captain Rohit Paudel and coach Monty Desai will surely sit down to work out a new plan of action, and we must have faith in their leadership – after all, Nepali cricket has not been as consistently strong as now. is among them. What we need immediately are investments in infrastructure. We don’t even have a stadium with floodlights, let alone decent stands and toilets for the spectators. The stadium in Kirtipur is rustic and amateurish at best; the one at Mulpani takes ages to complete, although it has been used for some tournaments; and the building in Bharatpur partly built by the Dhurmus-Suntali Foundation still has a long way to go before it becomes operational.

Moreover, our players have limited exposure to even regional cricket even though we live in the nerve center of the cricket world: South Asia. Nepal should take the initiative to invite regional cricketing powers like Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka for friendly and competitive matches so that our players get better exposure. We have seen how Afghanistan has become the dark horse of cricket in just a few years, with the right kind of regional support, especially India. If we play our shots well, we can become the next big story in cricket.

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