Nepal’s batting will be under sharp scrutiny when the team take to the field in their first match of the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division 2 against hosts Namibia in Windhoek on Thursday.
Nepali cricket is in a crucial juncture with the top two spot in Division 2 handing them a spot in March’s ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers and subsequently opening up opportunities to become one-day international team and participate in the elite competitions for non-Test playing countries. But to enjoy the luxuries that Division 2 might offer, Nepal must get through Division 2 that also includes Kenya, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman and Canada.
Skipper Paras Khadka’s men were relegated to Division 2 after they finished a distant seventh in the ICC World Cricket League Championship (WCLC)—three spots below than the top four that gave direct entry into the Qualifiers. Their batting in particular was the reason behind the team’s failure in the final stages of the WCLC against Hong Kong and the UAE.
Khadka, upon whom Nepal have been excessively reliant at crunch stages, wants everyone to pull up their socks. “Our batting has to click. There is no doubt about that. The top and middle order batsmen have to take the responsibilities and perform. At this level we have to push ourselves to do better. As a team everyone is hungry to perform, so I am hopeful we can deliver when it matters,” Khadka told the Post from Windhoek.
To get the best out of their batsmen, Nepal have hired former Mumbai coach for Ranji Trophy Sulakashan Kulkarni as their batting consultant and his presence has been felt by the team. “He (Kulkarni) has been very strategic and very precise. Having a new experienced voice in the dressing room always helps. He has done what he needed to and now it all comes down to how we deliver,” added Khadka.
Namibia and the conditions in the south African country is not new for Nepal. The last time Nepal met Namibia was during the WCLC games in Kathmandu where the hosts prevailed in both their matches last year. They had also beaten Namibia in Windhoek, also in Division 2, two years ago.
When Nepal were in Namibia last time, they had undergone a week-long preparation in South Africa to adapt to the local conditions. But they had to make do with pre-tournament preparations in the UAE where they played three practice games against the UAE ‘A’ teams before reaching Namibia on February 4. But not getting enough time to adapt to the local conditions has hardly irked Khadka. “I think we have done everything we can and its time we adapt well and perform. Its not going to be easy for us because all teams are on par. It all depends on who plays the best cricket in the next one week,” Khadka said.
Nepal are likely to go with their new opening pair of Dilip Nath and Gyanendra Malla followed by Sharad Vesawkar, Paras Khadka and Dipendra Singh Airee in the middle order. The selection headache will be choosing between young trio of Aarif Sheikh, Anil Sah, and Rohit Kumar as the latter two have shown a great amount of promise and are yet to make their debut for national team.
Seamers Sompal Kami, the highest wicket-taker in previous Namibia outing with 11 scalps, and Karan KC are confirmed picks along with new leg-spinning sensation Sandeep Lamichhane and veteran left-arm spinner Basanta Regmi. Young pace bowler Lalit Singh Bhandari may take the place of long-serving spinner Shakti Gauchan considering the seaming conditions in Namibia.Published: 2018-02-08 09:17:36