Nepal, the second-highest country in the world in terms of altitude, have made their ODI debut against one of the lowest-lying countries, the Netherlands.
With five ODI debutants for the Netherlands lining up against the 11 in the Nepal side, the odds were always likely to be stacked against the ODI newcomers for their historic match at Amstelveen, on 1 August 2018, in ODI No 4,026.
The Netherlands has an average height throughout the country of 30m above sea level (hence it is known as one of the ‘low countries’), while Nepal ranks as the second-highest country at an average height of 10,715 feet.
The match was the Dutch side’s 77th ODI and came off the back of a 28-44 win-loss ratio. Their most impressive wins have been against Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Scotland, but they promised to be a relatively accommodating nation to debut against.
Teenage sensation Sandeep Lamichhane is Nepal’s signature player, having put the country on the cricket map through his exciting brand of spin bowling. Lamichhane impressed in his three IPL matches this year for the Delhi Daredevils, taking five wickets with a best of 3-36 against the Mumbai Indians.
Lamichhane had the fourth-lowest bowling average in IPL 2018 at 16.40, which earned him a spot in the ICC World XI for their match against the West Indies at Lord’s in the Hurricane Relief T20 at the end of May. The youngster made his ODI debut against the Netherlands on his last day as a 17-year-old, but failed to make his mark in the match despite taking the third wicket to fall, when he bowled Pretoria-born Stephan Myburgh for 29 off 32 balls.
Lamichhane ended with figures of 1-42 off his 10 overs, but it was the superb bowling of his teammates Sompal Kami (3-34) and Paras Khadka (4-26) who conspired to roll their hosts out for 189 off 47.4 overs.
What was looking like a Cinderella story sadly fell apart as Nepal’s blistering start (58-0 off 12.1 overs and 87-2 off 19 overs) was reigned in by a stirring bowling performance from Fred Klaassen, Cape Town-born Michael Rippon and Pieter Seelaar, each of whom picked up three wickets, while four Nepal batters were dismissed without scoring.
Nepal would have become the seventh country to win their first-ever ODI had they held their nerve to push through for the win, but they will nonetheless be able to look back on the experience with a great deal of pride ahead of the second ODI on 3 August.
Netherlands 189 (Rippon 51; Khadka 4-26, Kami 3-34)
Nepal 134 (Malla 51; Seelar 3-20, Rippon 3-23, Klaassen 3-30)
The Netherlands won by 55 runs
Photo: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images