Nepal captain Rohit Paudel believes that silverware at the ACC Premier Cup, which helped them qualify for the Asia Cup 2023, is just the start of the team’s push in the international cricket.
Nepal booked their place at this year’s Asia Cup by defeating the UAE on Tuesday and are scheduled to take on India and Pakistan during the group stage of the tournament.
“That sounds good!” Paudel exclaimed when asked how his name sounded next to future Asia Cup Group A rivals Virat Kohli and Babar Azam in the post-final presentation.
“As a team, this is the beginning for us. We have just started, so there are many more (successes) to come, I think. I feel very lucky that I’ve got an amazing team,” he added.
Nepal overcame a late UAE challenge to win the final on Tuesday, after rain in Kathmandu on Monday meant play was postponed. The hosts bowled UAE out for just 117 in the opening moments of the reserve day, eventually winning by seven wickets thanks to a 96-run stand between Gulshan Jha (67 not out) and Bhim Sharki (36 not out).
Paudel praised the thousands of fans who braved the weather across both days, with some arranging ad hoc accommodation to stay another night in the capital.
“They have been here for so long, and they’re still here. Yesterday also in the rain they were standing for us. So the biggest thanks goes to them,” Paudel was quoted as saying by ICC.
Nepal made a big call in their tricky chase by pushing Jha up to No.3, with the left-hander used to counteract the spin threat, in the form of fellow 17-year-old phenom Aayan Khan. Stumbling to 22/3, not only did Jha glue together the innings with Sharki, he then countered, hitting a swath of boundaries down the ground, waiting on anything overpitched.
Reflecting on the win, a perhaps modest Paudel credited the decision to coach Monty Desai, a man who has changed the team’s fortunes since his appointment at the start of the year.
“It was a big call, and credit goes to Monty. He has been a serious role model to us, and we are learning from him,” the Nepal skipper said.
“Gulshan played a gem of an innings. It’s probably one of the best innings he has ever played,” he added.
The Asia Cup is currently slated for September, with the in-form Nepal side to also feature in the upcoming Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe, beginning on June 18.
Paudel’s men beat UAE in mid-March to complete an incredible Cricket World Cup League 2 comeback, winning 11 of their last 12 matches to punch their ticket for the Qualifier.