The Nepalese Cricket Team represents the small nation of Nepal, and has done so under the banner of an ICC associate member since 1996, 8 years prior to which they were an affiliate member. As a fairly new inductee to T20I status, Nepal has not really set the cricket world alight, but they have secured some notable victories in their short history.
Cricket was introduced to Nepal in the 1920s by the son of the Prime Minister. However, they took the description of a “gentleman’s sport” seriously, and the game was only played by the ruling class. When the Cricket Association of Nepal was formed after the Second World War, it was to promote cricket amongst the ruling and upper classes, and not the general population.
During the 1951 revolution, things changed and cricket began to spread to the general population. Within a couple of decades it had become one of their national sports, paving the way for Nepal to be inducted into the ICC as an affiliate member. This occurred in 1988. Cricket as a professional sport had been limited to Katmandu at the time, but improvements in infrastructure led to a spread of the game across the country, which helped the ICC to make their decision.
The government of Nepal began to promote cricket even more following this, and the game received a huge boost during the 1990s. Interest increased, and with schools and clubs teaching and playing the game across Nepal, the quality of the national team also improved.
By the time Nepal were granted associate status by the ICC, cricket was already a hugely popular sport, and the national team was more than strong enough to justify this status.
Although they have yet to play in an ICC World Cup, Nepal have still played well enough to break a few records over the years. In the 2006 ACC Trophy they bowled out Myanmar for a score of 10, which they did in a little more than 12 overs, setting the record for the lowest score in an International match. During this match they also set a couple of records for lowest runs scored by individual players.
Other impressive moments in Nepal’s history include the hat-trick from Shakti Gauchan against Denmark in 2012, and the highest Twenty20 score from an individual, which occurred when Mehbook Alam scored 88 off just 41 balls against Saudi Arabia.
Nepal have never qualified for the ICC Cricket World Cup, and they haven’t really come close to doing so either. The first time they were eligible for entry into the World Cup Qualifier was in 1997, but they did not participate. In 2001 they did participate, but they didn’t make it beyond the first round, and they didn’t play again until 2014. However, they did record their best finish during this year, but only after losing all of their group games and then beating Uganda in the ninth-place playoff.
In the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier they had a little more luck, and in 2013 they qualified to make their Twenty20 debut and to earn T20I status. This was arguably one of their biggest results to date, and it came in impression fashion. They finished ahead of Scotland, Papua New Guinea and Kenya in the group stage, recording 4 wins and 3 losses to finish third. In the playoff quarter-final they beat Hong Kong, before losing to Afghanistan and then triumphing in the 3rd place playoff against the UAE.
Their performance in the World Twenty20 Finals was not as impressive and they dropped out in the first round, but their qualification was still a major turning point in Nepalese cricket.
Nepal have also performed consistently well in the lower leagues of the World Cricket League. They have been declared champions of Division Three on two separate occasions, and they have also won Division Five and Division Four in the past. In 2012 they shared the ACC Trophy with the UAE, in 2006 they won the Fast Track Countries Tournament, and they have made it to the quarter-finals of the Asian Games on two occasions.
The teams from many smaller cricketing nations largely consist of expat players. This is the case across the Middle-East, where Pakistani and Indian players dominate, and it is also the case in several European and Asian countries. However, the Nepal team consists primarily of native players. This has limited their options over the years, but it has provided a huge boost to cricket in the country, and the Nepalese government continue to do all they can to promote the sport with their populace and to create the stars of the future.