A six-wicket win over Papua New Guinea has rewarded Nepal with One-Day International (ODI) status for the first time ever in what was a historic occasion on Thursday (March 15) in the World Cup Qualifiers play-off encounter at Old Hararians Sports Club.
Dipendra Singh Airee’s four-wicket haul (4 for 15), that cleaned up the tail for little, along with Sandeep Lamichhane’s four-wicket haul that accounted for the top order, helped restrict PNG to 114. Airee also starred in the chase as well with a 58-ball fifty, even hitting the winning runs with a six.
Nepal’s ODI status, however, was dependent on the Netherlands. A win for them over Hong Kong by 44 runs meant Nepal had to only beat PNG in order to establish ODI status which they did comfortably by six wickets. PNG’s loss meant that they will now lose their ODI status, along with Hong Kong.
Nepal were awarded Affiliate status by the ICC first in 1988, and were promoted to Associate rank in 1996. Since then, it has taken them just 12 years to rise up the ranks to achieve ODI status. It began in 2008 after they finished third in World Cricket League Division 5. Two years after, they were winners in Division 5. That year, 2010, also saw them finish third in Division 4, two years after which, they were crowned champions in 2012.
However, it was 2013, that was the game-changer for them after they had earned a place in the World Twenty20 Qualifier. They eventually made their World Twenty20 debut along with the UAE, and Hong Kong the following year. They were also crowned champions in Division 3 in the WCL in 2013. In 2015, Nepal qualified for WCL league Championship, after which, they were relegated to Division 2 with just four wins in 14 games.
Earlier in the year, they lost to UAE by a margin of just seven runs in the final of the WCL Division 2, finishing as runners-up despite a finish at the top of the table in the round-robin stage. While UAE beat Namibia by 19 runs, Nepal beat Canada off the last ball by one wicket, as both teams claimed the final places in the World Cup Qualifier.
Canada were on top with Nepal reduced to 144 for 9 in a chase of 195. However, a 51-run partnership for the last wicket between Karan KC, the No. 10 batsman, who remained unbeaten on 42 off 31 balls and Lamichhane (5*), led Nepal to a thrilling win.