Nepal defeated the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the final of ACC Men’s Premier Cup on Tuesday at the TU cricket ground in Kathmandu. The nation's glorious victory over the UAE is nothing short of a prodigious feat. The 7-wicket win against the UAE has catapulted Nepal into the Asia Cup 2023. The team's phenomenal performance, spearheaded by the exceptional 17-year-old Gulshan Kumar Jha, who showcased an unwavering display of skill and grit with his 84-ball 67, has not just brought pride to the nation, but also ushered in an era of renewed optimism. This triumph is a momentous occasion that has the potential to have a lasting impact on the nation's identity, making it a landmark achievement in Nepal's sporting history.
Undoubtedly, Nepal's historic triumph has unequivocally demonstrated the nation's untapped potential in the sport of cricket. The team's qualification for the Asia Cup is an outstanding feat that will undoubtedly inspire and motivate future generations to take up the sport and follow in the footsteps of their heroes. In addition, this significant achievement could pave the way for a surge in tourism, resulting in a much-needed boost to the country's economy. Furthermore, this success presents an opportunity to enhance the country's infrastructure to better support the development of cricket. Therefore, the government should unequivocally invest more in sports and extend unwavering support to aspiring cricketers, not only to bring glory to the nation but also to uplift the spirits of the people.
Also, the victory has raised the profile of Nepal in the region. Nepal's inclusion in the Asia Cup alongside cricket giants like India and Pakistan is no small feat, and the nation should use this opportunity to promote its culture and traditions. This could lead to stronger ties between Nepal and other nations in the region and create a sense of pride in Nepali citizens. Meanwhile, rape-accused cricketer Sandeep Lamichhane continued with his phenomenal contribution to the Nepali cricket. He was awarded the player of the tournament title. He has a case in which he has been accused of a grave crime pending at the court but he has once again proved why he is regarded as one of the most promising cricketers from the country. Lamichhane played a very important role in setting Nepal’s journey to the Asia Cup after nine long years.
However, the Asia Cup has been under debate due to political tensions between India and Pakistan. The two nations have a long history of disputes, and the Indian cricket team has expressed its reluctance to play in Pakistan, where the tournament is supposed to be held this coming September, due to security concerns. In such a scenario, the proposed 'hybrid venue model' by Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Najam Sethi, where Pakistan plays its Asia Cup matches at home and India at a neutral venue, could work for everyone, including the Indian team.This would ensure that the matches between India and Pakistan are played at a neutral venue, and there is no security threat to the players. The Asian Cricket Council should consider this proposal, which could ensure the successful organization of the tournament.
The Asia Cup 2023 is special for Nepal for obvious reasons. As a nation which will be participating in Asia’s biggest cricket tournament for the second time, Nepal earnestly hopes that it is not postponed! Yes, as many would recall this is not the first time that Nepal has made it to the Asia Cup as reported by several media outlets. Nepal did qualify for the Asia Cup Qualifier tournament which was held in Bangladesh in February 2014. The winner of this tournament would then progress to the main Asia Cup tournament, which was held in March 2014. In the Asia Cup Qualifier tournament, Nepal finished second in the round-robin stage behind Afghanistan, and then defeated the UAE in the final to book its spot in the main tournament. However, in the main tournament, Nepal could not progress past the group stage as it lost all three of its matches against Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.
However, it seems things are in for a change now. The Nepali team’s hard work and dedication and their new coach Monty Desai’s efforts (it’s been a little more than three months since he took charge of the Nepali national team), popularly known as ‘Monty Magic’ in the country’s cricket world, have been delivering results of late. And Nepal certainly stands a solid chance to better its performance of 2014 although it may not win the cup in just its second attempt.
However, let there be no doubt that Nepal's win in the ACC Premier Cup is a moment of pride for the nation. Nepal has not only qualified convincingly for the Asia Cup but also shown the potential to become a cricketing powerhouse in the region in the years to come. The success of Nepal's cricket team could have a wider impact on the nation's identity and the political situation in the region. Let's hope earnestly that the proposed hybrid model ensures the successful organization of the Asia Cup 2023. And let's wish the Nepali national team all the best!