There are only a handful of cricket matches in history where the start of the match is more important and significant that the result of the match; even fewer matches when both teams are looking forward to the start more than the results.
The Netherlands vs Nepal on August 1, 2018, at the VRA Ground in Armsterdam will go down in the history as one such match.
It’s first ever One Day International (ODI) match for Nepal – and it also marks the return of the Netherlands, who already have played 79 ODIs, to the ODI after four years.
For Nepal, it’s a dream come true – albeit a bit late for older fans as the country’s cricket held that promises for longer than it should have. It nevertheless came after 22 years of entry into international cricket and hopefully become a stepping stone for the Test status and a World Cup victory someday – sooner or later.
Paras Khadka, the captain, is surely the most emotional and happiest one as when he will retire, he will retire as the captain who led Nepal in first T20I (and the T20 World Cup) as well as the first ODI.
“This is just a beginning,” Paras tweeted on the eve of the match. “As we embark on a new cricketing journey from tomorrow, on behalf of the Whole team would like to thank all the past and present cricket players, coaches, officials, administrators and everyone who have so far been involved with Nepal Cricket.”
Kantipur TV reportedly paid NRs. 45 lakh (approx. USD 40,000) for the rights to broadcast a KNCB produced video live. This and expected fans at the ground meant the KNCB are hoping to at least break even, maybe even pocket a little bit of money, by hosting the matches, a rarity for an Associate series, according to Cricinfo.
The hosts are favorite, given their history and ranking, however, Nepal is a fighting spirit and the Rhinos are known for not giving up easily.
“We have a fantastic team spirit – that has definitely been a big plus point for us. We fight for every run and every wicket. All of us have been very honest and hard-working and maybe someone out there is looking after us,” Paras wrote for the ICC website.
In a 50-over-match played at the same ground in 2018, Nepal beat the Netherlands by 19 runs – one among only two defeats that the Netherlands suffered in the World Cricket League Championship, the tournament that they won. However, they have an upper hand in 50-over matches having won three among five played.
“The last 50-over game we played here, we beat them,” Paras told Cricinfo. “Fond memories, but it’s part of history. Coming to Netherlands, we’ve always liked it here. It’s good playing conditions.”
All 11 Nepali cricketers who will be named for the match will make an ODI debut. Senior cricketers, the likes of Paras, Gyanendra Malla, Shakti Gauchan, and Basanta Regmi some of whom have been playing for Nepal nearly two decades, will make debut along with much younger cricketers such as 17-year-old global icon of Nepali cricket, Sandeep Lamichhane. Sandeep has been named as one of “the 50 Young Players of the World” by the renowned Wisden monthly magazine in its August issue.
The match is expected to grip Nepali cricket fans worldwide. Kantipur TV’s broadcast will be watched by millions, whereas a lot others will follow the match and hundreds of them will reach the VRA Ground to support Nepali team. The Nepali supporters are known as the 16th player and captain Paras reflected so: “We also have an amazing fan following wherever we go. Nepalese people who have settled in other parts of the world come out in big numbers to support us – we are very blessed. They really boost us up.”
It’s the match that both team wants to win, will fight hard for the victory, but at the end both team will come out of the ground victorious in one or other way!
Nepal: Paras Khadka (c), Aarif Sheikh, Dipendra Airee, Lalit Bhandari, Shakti Gauchan, Karan KC, Subash Khakurel, Sandeep Lamichhane, Gyanendra Malla, Rohit Kumar, Lalit Rajbanshi, Basant Regmi, Anil Sah, Sompal Kami, Sharad Vesawkar
The Netherlands: Pieter Seelaar (c), Wesley Barresi, Ben Cooper, Bas de Leede, Scott Edwards, Fred Klaasen, Stephan Myburgh, Max O’Dowd, Hidde Overdijk, Michael Rippon, Shane Snater, Daniel ter Braak, Paul van Meekeren