Nepal 29 for 0 (Bhandari 24*) beat China 26 (Lamichhane 3-4, Regmi 3-5) by ten wickets
China has long been described as a dormant superpower, but where cricket is concerned, it is clearly still in the deepest of slumbers.
It took their next-door neighbours Nepal just 1.5 overs to hunt down a miniscule total of 26, as China slumped to their fifth defeat out of five in the ICC’s latest regional qualifier for the next World T20 in 2020.
With a population of approximately 1.5 billion people, China has a burgeoning and focussed interest in global sporting prowess – from their hosting of the 2008 Olympics to the recent relaunch of the super-rich China Super League, they aim to create a GBP500 billion dollar sports industry by 2025.
But where cricket is concerned, China remains way off the pace – despite the best endeavours of the former Bangladesh captain, Aminul Islam, who described himself as the “Neil Armstrong of Chinese cricket” when he was appointed by the Asian Cricket Council a decade ago oversee the growth of the game in the country.
“We are putting extra effort into China, because without China, cricket is not a global sport,” Aminul told ESPNcricinfo back in 2010. On the current evidence, the sport will remain a second-class citizen for some years to come.
In today’s non-contest, just one Chinese batsman, Hong Jiang Yan reached double figures – opening the batting he made 11 from 27 balls, having made scores of 1, 0, 1 and 1 in his first four outings of the tournament.
Seven of their players made ducks, two of them falling to Nepal’s star of the show, the 18-year-old legspinner, Sandeep Lamichhane, who returned the stunning figures of 3 for 4 in four overs to take his tally for the tournament to 20 wickets in 17 overs at an average of 2.05.
In reply, Nepal’s openers galloped to their total in an 11-ball flurry – with Binod Bhandari clobbering 24 of those in eight deliveries, with three fours and a six.
Nepal have now won five games out of five, with a top-of-the-table showdown to come against Singapore on Friday. Both sides have already secured their progression to next year’s WT20 Asian finals, with Nepal sealing their berth with their 117-run win over Bhutan on Tuesday.
For China, it’s back to the drawing board – although they have one last outing to come against Malaysia on Friday. And given that Malaysia themselves reduced Myanmar to 9 for 8 in another extraordinary contest on Tuesday, the portents are great.
On the plus side, China still have time to get their ambitions in order before these beatings take on any official status. The ICC recently announced that all T20Is would be given full international status, but effective only from January 1, 2019.
Fortunately, that edict won’t be extended to 50-over contests, in which China’s record is no better. In April 2017, they lost by 390 runs to Saudi Arabia after being bowled out for 28 in a World League Qualifier.