"Only a beginning" - Khadka dreams of more ahead of Nepal's first ODI
July 31, 2018 12:00 PM NPT
Nepal will play their first-ever One-Day International game against the Netherlands on Wednesday (August 1) but Paras Khadka, their captain, believes this is just the beginning for his side. Nepal had secured the ODI status by beating Papua New Guinea in the ICC World Cup Qualifier in Harare in March this year.
While the debut is going to be special, it's going to be an emotional one as well. Apart from the hardwork paying off, Nepal's batch of 2018 will also see Shakti Gauchan, the seasoned campaigner, retire after the tour. "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," Khadka wrote in his column in icc-cricket.com. "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."
Nepal managed just two wins in the World Cup Qualifier - against Hong Kong and PNG - but Khadka stressed the tournament was special for him and his boys. "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," he revealed.
"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."
Nepal hoped to gear up for the big occasion with T20 games against MCC and the Netherlands but rained played spoilsport at Lord's. While they did win over MCC by nine wickets in a six-overs-per-side game, their second game was washed out. Khadka, who will be 31 in October this year, has a few years of cricket left in him. His next aim is to help the team grow and hopefully qualify for the World Cup in 2023.
"We are already looking ahead to the qualifying stages for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023. This is a wonderful opportunity," he pointed out. "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 a 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."
After the first game in Amstelveen, both sides will meet again for the second and final match of the series on August 3 at the same venue.