Sports

Nepal seek bright start with Oman

- ADARSHA DHAKAL, Kathmandu

Nepal take on Oman in their first match of the ACC Asia Cup Qualifier at the Bayuemas Oval in Malaysia on Wednesday as they seek to end a five-year jinx against a team full of expatriates from the Indian sub-continent.


Under familiar playing conditions of Kuala Lumpur, Oman are not unknown opponents to Nepal. But it would be  a big concern considering that Nepal have never won against Oman in the last five years. The Omani team has a majority of Indian and Pakistani expats who have managed to trouble a host of Associate nations in multiple tournaments.


Nepal had lost to Oman in their previous meeting, losing by six wickets in the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia early this year. But the only defeat in the league stage of the tournament hardly mattered as Nepal managed to enter the World Cup Qualifiers from there and ultimately earned the One Day International status in Zimbabwe.


Nepal have not been able to defeat Oman since they overcame the side in the 2013 ICC World Cricket League Division 3 in Bermuda by 28 runs. Out of the six meetings between the two teams, both have won three each. Nepal skipper Paras Khadka doesn’t want his side to get complacent after being a nation who recently earned victory in their debut ODI series.


Nepal go into the tournament following their thrilling one-run victory over the Netherlands in Amstelveen on August 3 when they squared the two-match series at 1-1. “Its good to get the win on our debut ODI series but we have to start all over again. Nothing will be easy for us here and we have to play the best brand of cricket,” Khadka told the Post from Kuala Lumpur.


Oman, along with Hong Kong and fellow ODI side United Arab Emirates (UAE), are tipped favourites to win the tournament and Khadka wants to put all his focus on the opening game. “We have to start well. Especially it’s a one-week long event so we need to make sure that we stay sharp throughout the tournament,” added Khadka.


Malaysia is a venue from where Nepali cricket took off in a real sense winning  the ICC World Cricket League Division 4 in 2012. Most of their success stories have come from Malaysia having qualified for the 2016 ICC U-19 World Cup and winning the WCL Division 3 title apart from reaching the ACC U-19 Asia Cup semi-finals for the first time after defeating cricketing giants India.


Khadka, however, is not looking at the playing conditions alone. “We are too familiar with the Malaysian condition. But we have to take one game at a time as all the matches are going to be very important. Our first target is to qualify for the final and then we can think of winning the title and qualify for the Asia Cup,” the Nepal skipper added.
Nepal are likely to make one change in the playing squad that defeated the Netherlands in their second one-dayer, bringing in returning allrounder Sagar Pun who recently struck two centuries in the Malaysia Premier League and was adjudged the best batsman and player-of-the-series there. Pun’s recent familiarity with the Malaysian conditions will be what Nepali team will be counting on.


With the bowling unit looking strong in shape, Nepal’s selection headache will be in its batting order. Gyanendra Malla and Subash Khakurel are likely to open after looking in good shape during practice matches in Sri Lanka but the inclusion of Anil Sah will be in doubt as the U-19 cricketer might have to make way for Pun.


If Sah still makes it to the team, Nepal might go with one genuine fast bowler in Sompal Kami with Khadka doing the job for another fast bowler. Basanta Regmi, Pun, Sandeep Lamichhane will look after the spin department with Dipendra Singh Airee also capable of coming handy with his off spin. Aarif Sheikh and Rohit Kumar Paudel will look to strengthen the lower middle order.

Published: 2018-08-29 09:13:43