Captain quietly elated with side’s performance in World T20, says real journey begins now
For sheer consistency, Nepal was the best of the three associate teams on display in Group A in Chittagong. It comprehensively beat Hong Kong, held its own with the bat against Bangladesh and pulled off a strong win against Afghanistan on Thursday (March 20), its first since 2004 in any format against its old rivals.
While its showing did not help it get through to the second round, Nepal can hold its heads high, having come close to knocking Bangladesh out of its own party. Paras Khadka, the Nepal captain, was elated, but as always he had the maturity to temper that joy with guarded optimism about the future.
“The two wins in this tournament mean a lot to us. Like I said before the tournament – we came here to compete. We have always tried to win every game that we have played for our country. It will always give us a great boost moving forward and push us to do better as well as have great impact on the youngsters who are coming up and want to play cricket,” said Khadka. “This was the first time we qualified and managed to win two games. So it is a great achievement in itself, which we are taking back home. But now the real journey begins. We have to do the home work and start again from the beginning and put the structure right back home and try to produce better results in future.”
When asked if this performance would make it easier for Nepal to get One-Day International status at some point in the future, Khadka lobbed the ball into the court of the International Cricket Council. “I think it’s something you should ask the ICC, with the globalisation of the game. I cannot comment on the ODI status,” said Khadka. “We had a chance, with the 50-over World Cup qualifier, but, unfortunately, we couldn’t perform well there. We will take it slowly. Of course we want to be an ODI playing nation but then again it is upon the ICC and the world cricket structure. I hope we can push ourselves to perform well, try our best to perform well in any game that we play.”
While Khadka failed with the bat, he pulled off two stunning catches that played a huge part in Nepal’s nine-run win over Afghanistan. When asked about those catches, Khadka was typically self-effacing. “I think we should forget the catches. We have won the match. We are pretty pleased. We have always been trying to push ourselves to do better. We have been playing against Afghanistan for a very long time and they are a very good team and we know that,” said Khadka. “So, to beat them you have to take every chance and score a decent amount of runs and back it up by good bowling. So we managed to do all the three today. When you do things right there are moments – the key moments in any game and we managed to grab those chances.”
When pressed further, Khadka’s answer was refreshingly simple. “I had to take those catches, I had no other choice,” he said of his athletic efforts. “When on the field – I try to score runs as a batsman and take wickets when I bowl and put the best effort.”