Nepal captain Paras Khadka was left “speechless” after his side fought back from the brink of defeat to beat Canada on Wednesday and book a place at next month’s 2019 cricket World Cup qualifying tournament.
On the final day of the World Cricket League Division Two group stage in Namibia, Nepal were indebted to an unbroken 51-run stand for the final wicket between tailenders Sandeep Lamichhane and Karan KC, who hit the winning run off the final ball as they chased down 195.
“I can’t speak, the last wicket made 50 odd runs, cricket is just a winner today,” Khadka said.
“I feel for Canada, one in a million times you would win those games. Things have just worked out for us, we have been working so hard for all these years and eventually it has happened for us, I am speechless.”
The 17-year-old leg-spinner Lamichhane, who will be the first-ever Nepalese IPL player in April with the Delhi Daredevils, had earlier taken 2-40 as Canada posted 194-8 from their 50 overs.
At 144-9 with only 7.5 overs left, Nepal looked set to miss out on a place at the qualifiers in Zimbabwe, but Canada failed to hold their nerve as Karan struck four sixes in a match-clinching unbeaten 42 from 31 balls.
Nepal have never reached the World Cup before, but Wednesday’s win continued their rise towards cricket’s upper echelons, having been in Division Five alongside the likes of Fiji and Singapore as recently as 2010.
“The fans back home are one of our biggest inspirations and we always thank them. We want to do well, and help Nepal cricket grow,” Khadka added.
The United Arab Emirates will also compete in Zimbabwe for a place at next year’s tournament in England and Wales, after edging out Namibia by 19 runs.
The UAE edged through on net run-rate after finishing second in the table behind Nepal, level on points with Canada and Namibia.
“We have fought back after losing to Nepal, and worked really hard so I feel we deserve to be going to Zimbabwe,” said skipper Rohan Mustafa, who took 3-31 including the final wicket.
The UAE are looking to reach a second successive World Cup, after losing all six of their group-stage matches in 2015.
Nepal will take on Papua New Guinea, Ireland, the Netherlands and two-time World Cup winners West Indies in Group A of qualifying, with the UAE to face Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Scotland and Hong Kong in Group B.