Memories of ’69

As a year draws to an end, you’re often asked, “What was the best moment for you this year?”

A Nepali is asked this question twice, every year. Once when the Common Era (CE or AD) comes to an end, and another when the official Nepal Calendar (BS) comes to a close. Based on your experience, you can be termed fortunate – for being able to relive two great moments every year – or unfortunate – if you can’t recollect the moments that can be called great.

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And the award goes to… the crowd!

Nepal finished as the second best team in ACC T20 Cup, amid a gripping fever that saw almost everyone on Nepali cyberspace (social media and alike) talking about the game. The runners-up medal came for Nepal, despite some outstanding and memorable performances during the tournament.

There were several moments for Nepali cricket fans to savour, be it Paras Khadka’s ‘leading from the front’ swagger on the field, or Sharad Veswakar’s ‘coming-of-age’ attacking batsmanship, or Prithu Baskota’s ‘match-turning’ bowling against UAE (semi-final). But, if I were told to remember one scene from the entire tourney, it would be the moment that Nepal lost the Cup.

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Where is it heading, Mr. Skipper?

The start of ACC T20 Cup could not have been on a more appropriate day than Holi, the festival of colours. There is something about colours and T20 format of cricket that blends so well. For, this version is about freedom, audacity, and gay abandon that other version rarely provide.

However, one colour was missing in the festivities. That of the sponsors’ logo from the jersey of Nepali cricketers. Nepali players had intentionally blacked out (read: covered with a tape) the sponsors logo from the apparel they had been provided to play for the country.

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Football: Bring back focus on Infrastructure

Nepali football fans should be a happy lot this week. Primarily for the reason that their team would be playing in front of them, in AFC Challenge Cup, against Bangladesh, Palestine and Northern Mariana Island, in the floodlit Dashrath stadium.

It’s a pleasure to watch your team in action against other teams. It is an added pleasure it is to know that you don’t have to bear the notorious stench emanating from the restrooms that Dashrath stadium has now become famous for, during the league matches.

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Reclaiming the top spot – Nepali Football

Nepal has lost grounds in global football, according to the latest FIFA rankings. We are now placed at 174th position, having lost four spots. In the meantime, Pakistan, to whom Nepal lost two matches in a row, has climbed 19 steps and is four places ahead of us now.

I don’t read too much into the slight changes in FIFA rankings as it is a function of how well or how badly the team has done in past as well as how did it perform lately. It also takes into account what kind of opposition has it played and the results. So, Nepal beating Pakistan (who were well below us) would have changed our fortunes only marginally while Pakistan beating us changed their fortunes dramatically. Moreover, with AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers just around the corner, there is enough opportunity for Nepal to improve its ranking in months to come.

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It’s Time Nepali Cricket Turned Professional

If I tell you, ‘CAN (Cricket Association of Nepal) is not dynamic,’ you might wave a hand and say, ‘Maybe’.  But, if the same line comes from the captain of Team Nepal, it is certain to make you start to worry.

If I add that the skipper says that indifference or apathy from the CAN officials has affected the players’ performance, your worry level is bound to shoot up. So was I, after reading the Team Nepal’s captain complaining about CAN being unprofessional.

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The Hope Called Cricket

Nepali dreams of seeing their women play against top flight cricket nations has been quashed. The opportunity for this team being a participant at the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 2014 – scheduled to be held in Bangladesh – has now been thrown out of the window. Because it did not finish as the top team in ACC Women´s Championship in Thailand, Nepali women’s team would not be travelling to Ireland this year, to play in the world cup qualifiers.

It’s disappointing for cricket fans. It is difficult to take heart from a match where your team scores all of 38 runs, in 25-over-a-side match, despite being one of the title contenders. It’s not easy to digest that the highest scorer from your team manages 7 runs off 19 balls (Sita Magar) and highest score is contributed by Ms. Extra.

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Letter to Upendraman Singh

Dear Upendra,

I am sure you are in a repent mode now, as your latest press statement, as the President of Madhyapur Youth Association has hinted. Yet, you must remember that you gave us a moment we can perhaps never forget as football fans – for all the wrong reasons.

I am sure football fans like me would want to remember you for the feats you’ve achieved being Nepal’s premier custodian for long. Added to that has been your achievements as a coach of Himalayan Sherpa and assistant coach of Nepal, for which you’ve drawn accolades already.

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Dreams 2013!

New Year is a time for euphoria. The excitement of new beginnings makes it possible to forget past failings. It is a time to rejoice, as renewed energy makes it possible to scale heights unattained earlier.

And the year 2013, in all likelihood, could be the best year for Nepali sports, especially cricket. For this year gives us an opportunity to be on the road to qualify for unprecedented 4 World Cups. Never before have we been on the threshold of qualifying this many top tournaments. This year, if steps are taken right, and if our teams play well, there is a possibility that we might see our players rubbing shoulders with the top players of world cricket.

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Where is Binod Das?

The National One Day cricket championship ends just as the New Year begins. For all the criticism Cricket Association of Nepal has faced for not organizing the nationals during the customary season of summer, the timing of the nationals has been perfect this time around.

There is something about winter and cricket that makes sense. The sun shining on the pitch, after moist and dewy mornings, just as the players warm up and spectators enjoy sunbathing along with contest between bat and ball makes it a delightful sight that perhaps no other sport offers. Add to that women’s team practicing under the watchful eyes of Pubudu Dassanayake – just as the men fight it out for the national title – it seems as if everything were perfect with Nepali cricket.

Alas, not everything is. This time around, most people who came to cricket grounds to watch cricket in the capital had one question in mind: Where is Binod Das?

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Women’s League: At Long Last

Goalkeeper of the national women’s football team, Asmita Khawas was injured recently. The reason? She met a wild elephant she should not have, probably. The beast, not knowing Asmita was a national player, knocked her and she ended up in hospital, injured in the face and right leg.

Despite pain of the injury, she would not be too unhappy a lady. At least partly, as she must have learnt the same day, through media, that the first ever Women’s Football League was being organized in Nepal by ANFA.

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Nepali Football: Responsible Clubs?

An interesting bit of statistic to start with. The top team of this year’s Sahid Smarak A Division League will be richer by 7.5 million rupees. That is a whopping increase of cash from last season, where the amount was 2 million rupees for Sahid Smarak champions (4.5 million if you add the title winners of National League).

Each team participating in this year’s league has been given Rs 300,000 by ANFA, football’s governing body in the country, as preparation money. It is a customary practice, to bring the teams playing at the highest level, on an equal plane. Nothing wrong with that…

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