Nepal captain Paras Khadka details the team's triumphant and magnificent route to ODI status.
This has been such a long, amazing journey for Nepal cricket but playing our first ever One-Day Internationals against the Netherlands is only the beginning.
We have always wanted to get to this point but the challenge is to keep on growing. Eight years ago we were playing in ICC World Cricket League Division Five and now we are among the top 16 nations in the world, with ODI status guaranteed for the next four years.
I hope we can keep this going and continue to grow because our next goal is to become a Test-playing country. We have worked hard for ODI status and the games against the Netherlands are opportunities for us to explore ourselves, enjoy the experience and hopefully put up good performances.
It is amazing to think back to how far we have come. Speaking personally, I started playing the game very young at school in Kathmandu. I played all the time – football in the rainy season and cricket the rest of the time.
I didn’t have particular cricket heroes but I did love watching the great Australian teams of a few years back.
I never dreamed at that stage that I could play for my country but destiny had other things in mind! It was only when I was selected at under-15 level that things started to change.
Then we played at the ICC Under-19 World Cup – beating South Africa twice, New Zealand and Zimbabwe – and have played against some of the best players around from the other nations.
One of the happiest days since then was the day – 27 November 2013 – when we beat Hong Kong off the last ball to qualify for the 2014 ICC World T20 in Bangladesh.
I remember feeling very nervous. You have dreamed all these years and then it’s there in front of you. Three and a half hours away. You can make the biggest step in your cricket careers. It did take a lot out of us. We played some of our best cricket during those three matches at the ICC World T20, against Hong Kong again, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
Then this year qualifying from ICC World Cricket League Division Two in Namibia and making it to the ICC World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe was another special moment. Those are the high points. This year has been so important for my generation of cricketers because we have worked so hard to get to this point.
We have a fantastic team spirit – that has definitely been a big plus point for us. We fight for every run and every wicket. All of us have been very honest and hard-working and maybe someone out there is looking after us!
We also have an amazing fan following wherever we go. Nepalese people who have settled in other parts of the world come out in big numbers to support us – we are very blessed. They really boost us up.
We really noticed that support when we played at Lord’s for the first time in 2016. I woke up the next morning and thought to myself, ‘Did we actually just play at Lord’s?’ To be in a dressing room where every great in the game has been was an amazing experience. We were so glad we could repeat it again this week in a T20 tri-series with MCC and Netherlands.
We are already looking ahead to the qualifying stages for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023. This is a wonderful opportunity. The government in Nepal are looking to help us grow and hopefully, we will have a fully functioning cricket board soon as well. If we can get all the resources together then hopefully we will have good days ahead for Nepal cricket.
I’ve been playing for 15 years and I never thought I’d get this far. But there will come a time when it is enough – it might be in six months or six years. But for now, I want to contribute as much as possible and keep pushing myself. It all comes down to setting standards and taking it from there.
As captain, it has been a fabulous journey and I hope it will continue. The most important thing is to keep performing and to help the team grow.
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