London, July 21, 2016:Â On the back of sterling performances, Nepali national cricket team have had big fan following both at home and abroad.
But on Tuesday, captain Paras Khadka and his team were treated to something different to what they have come across so far.
They were at the historic Lordâ€™s in London where Nepal probably became the first non-Test playing nation to play at a ground that holds legacy of a great cricketing culture.
As the skipper came to bat against Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC)â€”worldâ€™s oldest cricket clubâ€”in the match to mark the 200-year relationship between Nepal and the United Kingdom, the home of cricket reverberated with familiar chants: â€œParas Khadka, chhakka padkaâ€ (Paras Khadka, hit a six) â€œParas Khadka chhakka padka.â€ He scored just 30 runs, but still the chants will resonate in his ears for rest of his life.
Khadka obliged to the exuberant fans, slamming a six in the 20th over before he was dismissed for 30 that contributed to a historic 41-run win. Nepal scored 217-8 in 50 overs and restricted MCC to 176 runs in 47.2 overs. The St Johnâ€™s Wood Road was captivated by a festive atmosphere as almost 5,000 Nepali supporters made their way through to the Lordâ€™s to watch Nepalâ€™s historic appearance there.
â€œIt was like playing at home away from home. I think itâ€™s the highest turn out of Nepali fans that we have seen outside Asia,â€ said Khadka, adding that it was a special day for Nepali cricket. Having made its international debut at 1996 ACC Trophy, this appearance at the Lordâ€™s Nepal has firmly put itself on the world cricketing map.
â€œIt was amazing just to be at the ground. Coming out of the dressing room, walking down the stairs to bat, passing through the famous Long Room, it was like a dream,â€ he said. â€œIt was a historic day for every one of us associated with the game of cricket and Nepali sports overall.â€
With the North Gate entrance already buzzing with vibrant Nepali supporters, the Edrich Stand witnessed a fanfare that is normally seen among legend of Indian and Pakistani fans whenever the two Asian cricketing giants clash. Just a few metres away from the JP Morgan Media Centre, Nepali fans arrived in hordes with traditional Nepali musical instruments. But the Lordâ€™s security staff denied the fans from taking the instruments and Nepali flags inside the stadium. But there was no stopping for the vocal crowds. Every single run, wicket, four and six were cheered as Nepalis took the Lordâ€™s by surprise. Khum Raj Pathak, a 32-year-old PhD student in Kent, was cheering on his team. â€œIt was really wonderful, a proud feeling for us. To watch our team play at this historic ground and emerge as winners…you cannot possibly ask for more,â€ said Pathak.
By Adarsha Dhakal