Kathmandu, Nepal, December 3, 2019: Ashmita Shah had returned home from Florida in the United States for a timely holiday as it coincided with the 13th South Asian Games, giving her the chance to watch her favourite sport - cricket. Although Nepal's men's team lost their Twenty20 opener by six wickets to Sri Lanka, Ashmita still enjoyed her day and thinks her heroes remain in contention for gold. "We are winning so many golds in other sports but I know for certain that most people in Nepal would be happiest if we were to win the gold medals in football and cricket, our two favourite sports,” explained Ashmita. Her words were supported by the large crowd which turned up at the Tribhuvan University grounds, the centerpiece of Nepali cricket, as the five-team men’s competition got underway. The women’s competition is being played in faraway Pokhara. “When I heard that cricket was being played at these Games and that it was at Tribhuvan University, which I went to, I made certain that I would find the time to come and support my team,” Ashmita said. “I learned to love the game as a university student here. And it is a life-long passion now. I hope that one day Nepal too can become a Test and ODI (one-day international) team and join the likes of India and Pakistan. We have improved but still have a long way to go,” Ashmita said. Cricket in Nepal struggles to extend its boundaries simply due to the lack of grounds. Brigadier Ram Rana, another ardent fan and President of the South Asian Games Security Committee, points out that in his mountainous country only 17 percent of the land is flat. Cricket comes second best when it comes to allocating land for development. “We don’t have adequate grounds. There are only about three schools which have cricket grounds in Kathmandu but, despite these obstacles, I’m proud to say we are getting competitive,” says Rana. A new international ground is being built in Chitawan, 120 kilometres from the capital, as Nepal Cricket readies to move into the international stage much like Afghanistan. Only five countries of the seven at these Games have sent cricket teams. India and Pakistan are not taking part, leaving the battle for gold to be fought between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, both of whom have sent under-23 sides. A full-strength Nepal team wants to be in the mix. But, despite putting on a good show with the bat – 172 for five – they could not quite halt the opposition. Ashmita remained optimistic. “I will be back to support my country against Maldives, Bangladesh and Bhutan, and hopefully we can still make it to the final.” All of Nepal will hope so, too.