Nepal inscribed another noteworthy entry in their cricketing history by winning on their first visit to Lord's on Tuesday in front of several thousand delighted fans. On a sweltering day in north London, a Nepal XI defeated MCC by 41 runs after which the Nepal captain, Paras Khadka
, led his players around the outfield to pay tribute to their typically exuberant supporters.
Having chosen to bat first, Nepal's every run was cheered to the rafters by a crowd of around 5000 that spread itself out across the Mound, Tavern, Edrich and Allen stands. Boundaries and wickets brought even greater outbursts of adulation and chants of "Ne-pal! Ne-pal! Ne-pal!" echoed around the old ground as Sompal Kami and Basant Regmi cleaned up the tail to dismiss MCC for 176 in pursuit of 218 in 50 overs.
The fixture was arranged as part of celebrations to mark the 200-year-old relationship between Britain and Nepal, with proceeds from the match going towards rebuilding work in Nepal after last year's earthquake.
MCC opener George Adair
did his best to spoil the visitors' party by scoring an even 100 but the left-hander was eighth man out, caught behind off Regmi, with the asking rate rising towards two runs a ball. Nepal's main contributor was Gyanendra Malla
with 39 but there were useful scores throughout the order as they built a match-winning total beneath clear blue skies, a Nepali flag above the pavilion fluttering in the occasional breeze.
"Boys were excited, a little bit nervous as well - you can understand, playing at Lord's just doesn't happen everyday," Khadka said. "I think we managed to hold ourselves pretty well.
"Everybody contributed bits and pieces, overall it was very good. Batting, we were 20-30 runs short but the boys kept digging in, the wicket wasn't that easy and the bowlers were very, very disciplined and that was one of the key factors for us to win today."
The result gave the majority of those who had paid £10 for a ticket the perfect summer's day out - Nepal shirts were de rigueur, although those attempting to unfurl a flag in the stands received a gentle talking to from the stewards, as per Lord's rules.
MCC were captained by former Middlesex and Somerset allrounder Keith Dutch
and included former Queensland batsman Clinton Perren and South Africa-born fast bowler Chad Barrett, who made his only first-class appearance for Northamptonshire two years ago.
Dutch and Barrett picked up two wickets apiece and Nepal did well to get up to 217 for 8 in their 50 overs after slipping to 174 for 7. Khadka swept the only six of the innings as he and Malla took the score to 104 for 2 but the experienced pair fell in successive overs, as Dutch and left-arm spinner Marc Reingold established a stranglehold on the scoring.
Kami and Regmi bolted together a resourceful 42-run stand for the eighth wicket and the Nepal bowlers then proved adept at defending a score. Sagar Pun
picked up 3 for 35 with his offspin as only Adair, fellow MCC opener Steve Clark and No. 7 Richard Wilkinson managed to get into double-figures - and, in the case of Adair, a 28-year-old who plays for Hampstead, beyond. His well-paced century, from 122 balls, was warmly applauded by players on both sides.
Pubudu Dassanayake, who stepped down as Nepal coach last year after being involved in some of their greatest moments of recent times, joined the celebrations in the dressing room afterwards. Dassanayake has been back working with the side recently as a consultant, arranged by the ICC, and his pride in their achievement was obvious.
"These boys, the amount of work they put in, they deserve this, to come and play a game here," Dassanayake said. "They make a lot of sacrifices and fight always."