Nepal's triumphant skipper dreaming big after masterminding ODI status.
The equation on Thursday morning was simple: Nepal had to beat PNG, and the Netherlands defeat Hong Kong, for Nepal to achieve ODI status for the first time.
“We had to win that game,” says Nepal’s classy captain, Paras Khadka, looking back on a life-changing week. “We started well, won the toss and put them in, the bowlers were fantastic and we chased it down. But we still had to wait for the Netherlands result, so we went back to the hotel and kept refreshing the score.
“When the 10th wicket went down, we became an ODI team for the first time in our cricket history. It was always our dream to become an ODI nation, and come 2018, that dream has now turned into a reality.”
Thank you everyone for the support..Just been years and years of toil,persisitance,sacrifices,commitment and hardwork..Finally WE BECOME An ODI nation..— Paras Khadka (@paras77) March 15, 2018
Congratulations to everyone who has been part of Nepal cricket's incredible journey ..
But Khadka, who enjoyed a good tournament personally, making fifties against Scotland and Afghanistan, is under no illusions what lies ahead.
“Getting ODI status is one thing but we need to stabilise and make it stronger, and in the next three to four years, if we can set up a good structure back home, I’m sure we can prosper in the coming years.
“Our domestic structure has to improve, for sure,” he adds, in reference to Nepal’s current suspension from membership of the ICC. Nepal were suspended in April 2016 for breaching Article 2.9 of the ICC’s Articles of Association, which prohibits government interference and requires free and fair elections.
Following an ICC delegation to Nepal in January – and subsequent plans to adopt an agreed and amended constitution by which the membership base will be determined – the case is due to be reviewed at the ICC’s Annual Conference in June.
“We need to organise more matches within the country and build up our infrastructure,”Khadka acknowledges. “And the most important thing is to first get our board functioning. We are still under suspension so come June I hope the suspension is lifted, and then we can have a proper board for cricket to be run.
“We have all the resources, it’s just a case of managing those resources.”
For now though, Khadka, whose side finish eighth overall after defeat to the Netherlands in their final match, is happy to focus on the scale of his team’s achievement this week, and the realisation of a personal and collective dream.
“Over the last few years we’ve realised what to do to sustain us at this level,” he says. “Hopefully we can improve our game further. It can only mean good things for Nepal cricket.”
And with a cricket-mad population behind them, a tight-knit bunch bursting with youth and a teenage IPL star in Sandeep Lamichhane, the future appears limitless.
“One day we want to become a Test playing nation,” he declares. “It’s a journey – it will probably take another 8-10 years. But now that we are an ODI nation, our next goal is to get to a 50-over World Cup.”