Having beaten Papua New Guinea in the ICC World Cup Qualifier in Harare in March this year, Nepal secured One-day International status from the ICC. The cricket-mad nation will rejoice when their men step on the field to embrace what it is like playing 50-overs game for the first time at the highest level against Netherlands. It has been a long journey for Nepal, a lot of which has been seen by their captain and leader, Paras Khadka.
Paras is excited, he is delighted infact, but his ambitions for cricket in his beloved nation are bigger. He believes, this is just the beginning.
"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 in his column in icc-cricket.com wrote, "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 won just two games in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier earlier this year in Zimbabwe but did enough to earn the right to play ODIs but Paras thinks the tournament was still special in every possible way for his team.
He further wrote, "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, 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."
Paras, who is 31 years old and has possibly a few more years left in him, has the ambition to see Nepal play Test Cricket one day and said, "We are already looking ahead to the qualifying stages for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023. This is a wonderful opportunity, 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."
Nepal is in Netherlands for a 2-match ODI series, the first of which will be their inaugural ODI in Amstelveen on August 1.