|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
Mohammad Isam in Chittagong
March 17, 2014
Nepal will face Bangladesh on Tuesday evening, but the two teams go back a long way, all the way back to 1996 when Nepal played their first ever cricket match, when both of them were Associate Nations. During the ACC Trophy in Kuala Lumpur that year, Nepal lost to their World T20 Group A opponents by a margin of a faster run-rate.
Their paths have crossed at other levels of cricket: Under-15s, Under-17s, Under-19s, Under-21s, their women's teams as well as the blind cricket teams of the two nations. But that ACC Trophy game was of utmost significance as it happened 50 years after the Cricket Association of Nepal was formed, and started their journey.
Paras Khadka was too young to remember the particulars of that game but like most cricket fans in Nepal, they have followed the Bangladesh team on TV.
"We have watched every player on TV and now we are playing against them," Khadka said. "So we are looking forward to it. We get all the TV channels that you get here. More than pressure, it is an opportunity. We should not be thinking too much about being explosive. We should take it nice and slow, build it up."
Their 80-run win over Hong Kong in their World T20 debut was widely followed back home. Large crowds gathered in Durbar Squares in the capital Kathmandu, while the result was the front-page lead in several newspapers.
On Tuesday, they will have another opportunity to gather their fans in front of large screens when they take on Bangladesh in their second Group A game in Chittagong.
Khadka said that one of the biggest motivations for the team had been the support from back home, here in Chittagong and from the Nepal fans everywhere.
"I think that (the fans) will be the next cover photo on my Facebook page," Khadka said. "It was amazing, the kind of response we are getting back home. I think we have had this from the time we have qualified for this tournament. The interest has always been there, it is not that we have qualified and people are following us.
"Every time we play in our home ground, there are 15-20,000 people who support us. People getting into a square and watching the game, such photos really motivates us to do better. The biggest factor for all our cricketers is for the fan following and passion. So we want to do well for the people and ourselves."
But the Nepal team hardly had the time to celebrate their win over Hong Kong, and Khadka added that they treated it like any other win over their Associate opponents. "There was no party. By the time we reached the hotel it was midnight. I think it is more about being happy to do well.
"We have been playing against Hong Kong regularly, so it was another win. Of course it came in our debut match, but we didn't want to be too overjoyed. We want to continue from what we have done yesterday and move forward."
Khadka is impressive on and off the field, and is perhaps the perfect ambassador for cricket in Nepal. He led the team very well against Hong Kong and has now stressed on the need for his players to play the same brand of cricket, against much stronger opponents. He is confident that they will play more comfortably, and will be geared up for a good contest.
"We will play the cricket that we know. We can't change anything. We are here to compete. We are not here for participation. Everybody is keen to do well. The nervousness of the World T20 debut is gone. We have managed to win well, but we have to start from scratch, from ball one.
"We need to think positive."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
|Comments have now been closed for this article
A look at some of cricket's most memorable strokes - and their makers