Khadka positive despite Nepal's record batting rout
Making their World T20 debut last year in Bangladesh, in front of the whole world, Nepal put on a commendable performance with two wins over Hong Kong and Afghanistan as well as a gritty loss to Bangladesh. There was no sign of stage fright on the biggest platform they had encountered to date and their spin-heavy attack was right at home on subcontinental decks.
In possibly their biggest match since then, in unfamiliar conditions against Ireland - the premier Associate nation of the last decade - stage fright against the opposition's canny medium-pacers who thrived in the wet and cold conditions sent Nepal tumbling to their worst defeat in T20 cricket. The total of 53 was their lowest in T20 cricket and only the second lowest T20 international total by any team. Paras Khadka, the Nepal captain, said the team's failures with the bat could not be blamed on losing the toss.
"Today was a very bad day for us," Khadka told ESPNcricinfo after the eight-wicket loss. "Getting bowled out for 53, I don't think there's much that you can talk about. All we can think is that we should just forget this game even happened. We would have loved to have had a better game today. If we had 130-140, which we were targeting, we thought we could have pushed them but we just couldn't bat at all."
Nepal has not played in the British Isles since 2008 in the World Cricket League Division Five at Jersey but Khadka says the tour to the Netherlands and 10 days in Ireland before this match should have been adequate to get the team acclimatised for today's encounter.
"Playing in different conditions you have to prove yourself," Khadka said. "If you want to have that aim of becoming an ODI nation, we're in the World Cricket League [Championship] now so we expect to play against all these teams. We can't make excuses about the conditions so we have to prepare accordingly. We want to play good cricket wherever we go.
"Obviously the conditions are not similar to what we're used to, but that's what the beauty of cricket is, playing international cricket in different regions. That's how you become a better cricketer, playing in different conditions and adapting to that and performing at that level. So we are looking forward to it. We'll not put in excuses that the conditions are different. Of course conditions are different. They're different for all teams except for the hosts. It's very important we think positively."
Khadka defended the decision to drop vice-captain Gyanendra Malla down from No. 3 - where he had scored 52 in a win over USA - to No. 5 in the batting order, saying that it was a plan that didn't come off.
"We knew this would be an important game moving forward. Ireland is probably the strongest team in our group. We thought that we had to take the chance for us to get a good decent score early. Unfortunately it didn't fire for us but it's very important we come back to basics. We shouldn't be stuck with numbers saying you need to bat at one, two, three or four. Whatever number, you should be ready to go out there especially in T20 cricket."
Despite the heavy margin of defeat, Khadka remained positive about the team's prospects and hopes they can make up ground over the next few matches to close the gap in the net run rate tiebreaker.
"We've seen more than any other team what it takes to get into a World Cup, how every match and every run, every wicket is so important when it comes down to run rate, having come through the World Cricket League from Division Five, Division Four and Division Three. We'll go out there and play with whatever we have and give the best of what we have and the results will be there definitely.
"The tournament is pretty wide open for all teams. It's very important that we keep the focus going. The opportunities will be there so it's about how hungry you are. The more hungry you are the more the results will come in our favor. We have the talent and the potential, now it's about putting in the numbers and performances. With the kind unity and team spirit that we have, we hope to make it through."
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna