Harare: Nepal skipper Paras Khadka hailed his “amazing” team after they secured one-day international status for the first time with a six-wicket victory over Papua New Guinea in Harare on Thursday.
The Asian side were in the World Cricket League Division Five as recently as 2010, while their cricket association has been suspended by the ICC since 2016, although the ban doesn’t affect on-field matters.
Only a thrilling one-wicket win off the final ball over Canada even got Nepal to the World Cup qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe, where they followed up Monday’s win over Hong Kong by beating Papua New Guinea in a play-off to become cricket’s newest ODI side.
“It’s massive, it’s something we have worked towards for a very long time,” said Khadka.
“As a team we’ve been pushing ourselves. We’re very glad that we’re winning games through different situations, players are standing up and everyone’s contributing.
“As a captain I’m happy to lead such an amazing bunch of boys.”
Nepal’s fanbase has grown back home in recent years, with attendances for matches reported to have reached 20,000.
Former Australia captain Michael Clarke and Pakistan greats Inzamam ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed were among those to congratulate Khadka’s side on Twitter.
“Congratulations to Nepal on getting the ODI status,” wrote Mushtaq. “Way to go lads. A historic day for your country.”
Nepal bowled out their opponents for only 114 and chased down the small target with 27 overs to spare.
Dipendra Singh Airee and teenage leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane both took four wickets, before Airee hit an unbeaten 50 to ensure that Nepal would become an ODI team until at least 2022, with Papua New Guinea losing their elite status.
“A big proud day for all the people of Nepal,” Lamichhane, who was the first Nepalese to be signed for the Indian Premier League earlier this year, wrote on Twitter.
“What a beautiful journey so far. Together it’s Possible. Nepal – An ODI Nation!”
The other play-off game saw Hong Kong lose their ODI place after a defeat by the Netherlands.