Crowd trouble spoils day two in Nepal
This ACC Twenty20 tournament is the first tournament Nepal have hosted since Division Five of the World Cricket League in 2010, which was spoilt by crowd trouble in Nepal's match against the USA that ensured that Singapore wouldn't be promoted to Division Four.
And like that match against the USA, Nepal's "supporters" once again chose to cause a disturbance - on the same ground too - when Nepal were faced with almost certain defeat in their match against the UAE this afternoon.
The UAE, fielding first after losing the toss, bowled very well to restrict Nepal to 95-9 from their 20 overs, Ahmed Raza bowling well to take 3-12. The UAE started their chase well, with Shaiman Anwar scoring a run a ball 33 before Amrit Bhattari took two wickets in consecutive deliveries.
Soon after that though, the wheels came off for Nepal. Two deliveries during the 16th over saw six overthrows between them, and a four from the next ball sparked the crowd trouble. Spectators began to advance, throwing bottles onto the field. Police managed to bring the situation under control, chasing some spectators out of the ground, but not before some members of the crowd threw stones onto the field.
The match resumed, once the groundsmen had cleared the field, with almost 200 police officers around the ground, and the UAE secured a six wicket win with nine balls to spare.
It is becoming apparent that Nepal can no longer be considered a suitable host for international cricket. This is a sad state of affairs, as Nepal attracts crowds that some Test playing nations would be envious of. But safety of players and officials has to be paramount. The remedial measures requested by the ICC after the Division Five riot have clearly not been effective, and Nepal should almost certainly be banned from hosting tournaments for the foreseeable future.
In the other matches today, Afghanistan beat Oman by 40 runs, the Maldives easily beat Bhutan by nine wickets and Kuwait eased to a six wicket win over Saudi Arabia.
There will be just two matches tomorrow, with Hong Kong playing Saudi Arabia and Malaysia playing the Maldives, both matches taking place in the morning. Officials will no doubt be spending much of the day discussing the unfortunate incident that took place in the Nepal v UAE match today, and whilst a solution may not be easy to implement - and could well inflame the situation - something certainly needs to be done.