Introduction of cricket in Nepal
Nepalese Cricket: Cricket was first introduced to Nepal by the Rana Dynasty after their return from their studies in England and India in the 1920s. Though Nepalese cricket was mainly played between Ranas they established the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) in 1946 AD. From 1951 AD cricket began to spread to the rest of the people. Men’s Nepalese cricket team played its first-ever international match against Bangladesh on 6th September 1996 AD in ACC Trophy.
Nepal lost after the match was halted in 39.2 overs. Bangladesh made 213/9 in their allotted 50 overs. Chasing 214 run Nepal were 90/5 in 39.2 overs before rain stopped the match. Nepal lost the match because they were behind the runs required in that situation. ICC announced Nepal as an affiliate member in 1988 AD. Nepal got affiliation from Asian Cricket Council (ACC) in 1990 AD and became a full member in 1994 AD.
Though the administration from CAN has always been a mess with constant political interference which resulted in suspension of CAN by ICC in 2016 stating government interference. Nepal cricket has slowly prospered. In age group cricket Nepal has always been a dark horse. Nepal has qualified for six U19 world cup since 2000 AD, the second-most by any team from nontest playing nation first being Ireland for 7 times. They have beaten South Africa, New Zealand, Bangladesh and England in U19 competitions.
Senior National Team
Nepal was the runners up in the 2002 ACC Trophy and won the ACC Fast Track Countries Tournament in 2006. They played their first World Cricket League at Jersey where they finished third and remained in Division Five. Nepal senior men team won World Cricket League (WCL) Five in 2010 AD beating USA in the finals. Nepalese cricket team was prospering at that time and was doing fairly well.
Then in 2011 AD, Sri Lankan wicketkeeper-batsman Pubudu Dasanayeke came to Nepal as a head coach, under him Nepal cricket reached its peak. His influence in Nepal cricket was immense after that Nepal never looked back during his time. Under the good leadership of captain Paras khadka and coach Pubudu Dasanayeke Nepal reached division 2 from division 4. As Paras Khadka once said “We knew there lies big opportunities ahead of us, but we didn’t know how to get there exactly. Pubudu sir came and showed us the way.” Pubudu proved to be ‘NAYAK’ in Nepal cricket and he will live in heart of all Nepalese cricket fans.
In his reign, Nepal qualified for the 2014 twenty20 world cup. Nepal started the tournament in high by beating Hong Kong with 80 runs. Nepal won two out of three matches in that tournament but narrowly failed to proceed further into the super 10s. The net run-rate difference between Bangladesh who advanced in 1st place and Nepal who finished 2nd was not much. This achievement was massively celebrated across the country and established cricket in Nepal.
Nepalese cricket was awarded twenty20 international (T20I) status by ICC in June 2014 but Nepal lost its T20I status after its disastrous 2015 ICC world twenty20 qualifier in which Nepal lost 4 matches out of 6 match-winning 1 match and no result in 1.
With all the on-field achievement, the off-field administration was poor which resulted in Pubudu leaving Nepal. And in 2016 ICC banned the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) which was really a bad blow for Nepal cricket because the banned in CAN meant complete blockage of cash and any other funding. ICC took Nepal cricket under its administration and took care of managing its matches and fixtures.
Nepal got One Day International (ODI) status for the first time on 15 March 2018 AD. They regained its T20 status after ICC decided to provide T20 status for all its associate members in 2019 AD. They also played its first-ever ODI match against the Netherlands at VRA Cricket Ground, Amstelveen on 1st August 2018 AD and is currently ranked 16th in Odi and 15th in T20.
With CAN reinstated in 2019 let’s hope Nepal cricket gets support from the administration that it deserves and prosper in the coming future. The ultimate goal for Nepal cricket has been Test status and let’s hope it gets there in the near future.