'It is so frustrating to come all the way just to sit and watch the rain. We have to force a result' There was good news and bad news yesterday. The good news was that the Nepalese were celebrating the lifting of emergency rule by King Gyanendra. The bad news was the unseasonal rain which washed out play on the opening day of the ICC Intercontinental Cup between Hong Kong and Nepal. 'It is so frustrating to come all the way just to sit and watch the rain,' said Hong Kong coach Robin Singh. 'What this means is that we will have to play more positively now and try and force a result. It is important that we get as many points as we can from this match.' Having lost to the United Arab Emirates earlier this week, Hong Kong need to take maximum points from this three-day game and then hope that when Nepal host the UAE next week, the match will end in an inconclusive result. But the weather front arrived one week too early for Hong Kong. Three changes have been made to the team who played in Sharjah. Rahul Sharma replaces the unavailable Mark Eames, while 'local' player Sher Lama and teenager Irfan Ahmed come in for Jawaid Iqbal and Nasir Hameed. The Hong Kong team woke up last morning to the sound of rain pattering on their windowsills at the Annapurna Hotel, a few hundred metres down the road from the Royal Palace. When they got to the Tribhuvan University Stadium on the outskirts of the capital, they found the covers on and a steady drizzle which stopped around noon. Frantic efforts by the ground staff to dry the area around the pitch were well on track and at one stage, it looked like there would be some play for the day, but then the weather gods decided to rain on the parade again. The umpires called off play just before tea. 'We apologise for the weather. It is unseasonal. There is a saying here that if you need rain, all you have to do is to organise a cricket match. Sadly that saying has been realised today,' said Jai Kumar Shah, president of the Cricket Association of Nepal. With yesterday being the weekly public holiday, a large crowd in a festive mood had turned up in the mood for a party. 'We are happy that the emergency rule has been lifted. We hope this is the first step in the road to permanent peace in our country. And it is nice that countries like Hong Kong have come here to play cricket. I hope we can enjoy a good game,' said Bhirinder Thapa, an ardent fan in the crowd. On February 1, King Gyanendra assumed full power after sacking the government, which he said had been ineffective in clamping down on a Maoist insurgency. The Maoists have been fighting to replace the monarchy with a single-party communist republic in one of the world's poorest countries. Since 1996, more than 11,000 people have died in this rebellion. While the political hopes of Thapa remain clouded, his immediate hopes of watching a good day of cricket were dashed with the drizzle intensifying late in the afternoon. 'Whatever play lost is bad for both teams. We have lost 105 overs today and this is a big blow to us as we have been looking forward to playing against Hong Kong under our conditions. I would like to think that playing at home, we are the favourites,' said former Sri Lankan test star Roy Dias, Nepal's coach. With one whole day's play lost, the match will become more of a test of strategy, presuming that play will start on time today. According to Singh, declarations will be needed from both sides if a result is to be had. 'Unless a side can bowl the other one out twice, I would think declarations will come into play. Sporting declarations will be called for. It will be a question of what sort of total one can be comfortable with, and how quickly this total is achieved, or how quickly a side can be bowled out,' Singh said. 'It is crucial for both sides to get a result. But I would think that there is still a lot of cricket left,' said Singh. If play is called off today due to the weather, or if only one hour of play is possible today, then the first innings will be forfeited and the match will be decided only on the second innings. If this is the case tomorrow, the last day, then Hong Kong batting first will have to set a target and then bowl Nepal out, or vice-versa. But everything will depend on the weather, which no one, not even a king himself, can control.