We had already made a habit of losing cricket matches, as in football. After following Nepalese cricket for almost a decade, I was already tired, down and dispirited. Recently, my disheartenment led me to write a blog-‘Ek tha Giant Killers’. This was in response to our disastrous performance in the recently concluded U-19 World Cup. My hopes came crashing down as of the Nepalese cricket fans who had been inhabiting with dashing hopes for some time now. Nonetheless, I couldn’t be aloof from every match played by our national team and always prayed for them to put up a better show. The scenario has reversed now, most probably after the arrival of the new coach Pudubu Dasanayake. Keeping the dismal show of the U-19 team in the WC aside, everything is looking fine in Nepalese cricket now.
After the fantastic show in the Division IV and title victory last month, Nepalese fans had pinned high hopes with the national team for the ACC Elite Trophy. Nepal broke the jinx of loss with the arch rivals UAE with a scintillating triumph in the opening match. A loss with minnows like Kuwait might have disturbed some fans but Nepal was rising towards being a batting powerhouse. Nepal proved that it was just an ill luck with back to back victories over Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Everybody thought Nepal was going to clash with Afghanistan for the title. But to everyone’s surprise it was UAE again, our old foe ready to avenge their opening loss to newly arrived cricketing power, Nepal.
As usual, I was being updated of the match statistics through cricinfo, twitter and facebook. I was really happy that UAE were at 24/3 at one stage and their score of 70/4 also made me happy. I thought that they could be restricted below 150 and the title could be pocketed easily. But then, UAE marched to a huge total of 241/6 and this strained me a lot. I had a slim hope that Nepalese batsman would demonstrate their improved batting performance. To my bad luck, I couldn’t be updated to rest of the match myself due to powercut in my area. But, I kept on asking scores every 5/10 minutes with my brother through calls and SMS. The opening pair of Anil Mandal & SP Khakurel lived up to our expectations and piled up a 94 run partnership for the first wicket. I was sure of the win even after they departed because we had reliable pair of ‘Gyane-Paras’( Why not give some nicknames to our stars?) who kept the scoreboard tickling and took us to the score of 165 runs. I was in dark again, because there was powercut in my brother’s area too. I restlessly waited for the light to come and when it came, I immediately opened cricinfo and was a bit disappointed to find the match had tied. But, the description of the thrilling last over and the way Shakti pulled us out of defeat made me very happy. Since then, I have been constantly following news in TV, Twitter, Facebook and other websites.
I spent this whole Saturday today with the internet, following news about Nepal’s victory in the ACC Elite Tropy. I have been tweeting for the whole day with every new updates I receive. I am really exhilarated with the performance of our national team. This marks the beginning of our dream world cup run. Nepal continues to be the highest ranked team among ACC Non-Test Playing Countries. The UAE coach Aaqib Javed acknowledged his side were stunned by the quality of their opponents. “Nepal are playing really super cricket, and we were a little bit surprised.” said Saqib Ali, the centurion batsman in the final match.
Even the media in UAE is praising the performance of Nepalese team, and the overwhelming support of Nepalese fans. The National newspaper has carried the news with the headlines ‘Nepalese fans drum up decent Himalayan support’. It goes on to add ‘For one day, the UAE’s oldest cricket venue belonged to international cricket’s newest arrivistes: Nepal.’ It has also admired Paras Khadka, the Nepalese captain saying ’The all-rounder is the darling of the Nepalese supporters. His appearance at the wicket yesterday attracted the sort of booming welcome which this ground usually reserves for Shahid Afridi and no one else.’ But the Nepalese media have been too mean and have not given good space to the greatest achievement in Nepalese cricket except papers like Nagarik. Especially, Kantipur has come under fire for not carrying out the news in front page.
I used to think I was just being a stupid, crazy Nepalese cricket fan following ball to ball commentary of the match. Today when I find so large number of people sharing their experience of the match through facebook page like ‘Nepalese Cricket Players’ and ‘Nepali Cricket Fans on Facebook’, I realized that it was not just the 11 players who were playing the finals yesterday. It was the whole nation trying to bundle out UAE for the lowest possible score and facing every ball bowled by the UAE players. The whole Nepalese hearts around the world would beat faster with each troubling situation and relax with the comfort in the game. It has shown the love of all the Nepalese for the country. Circumstances have made people leave the country but none of us have forgotten our roots. We may have been divided by the filty politics but cricket is uniting us. I am really proud of myself being a Nepali today. I am really proud of my country, Nepal. And yes, I am really proud of all the players who have made us proud. I am proud of Nepalese Cricket!