Sports

Nepal under big pressure

  • WCLC matches against Hong Kong
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Oct 11, 2017-As the final stages of the World Cricket League (WCLC) Championship approaches near, Hong Kong-bound Nepal are under pressure to win all their remaining matches to make it through to the 2018 Cricket World Cup Qualifiers.

Nepal are currently at the sixth spot in the eight-team WCLC, a gateway to the 2019 World Cup with the top four teams advancing into the 2018 Qualifiers to be held in Zimbabwe. Nepal have 10 points from eight matches (four rounds) and only twin victories against hosts Hong Kong can get their qualification campaign back on track. 

With table toppers the Netherlands all but securing a place in the Qualifiers with 18 points before taking on second from the bottom Namibia (six points) in their last encounter, the table is wide open for second placed Papua New Guinea (16 points), Scotland (15 points), Kenya (12 points), Hong Kong (11 points) and Nepal who have eight points. The latter two have played 10 games each. 

Nepal next play bottom side United Arab Emirates (6 points) in their final two games and only twin wins against Hong Kong will keep their hopes alive. However, their progress will also depend on how other teams fare in the final round with Hong Kong taking on PNG and Scotland taking on Kenya. 

Nepal skipper Paras Khadka admitted his side is under a huge pressure. “Obviously, all the teams are under pressure because the points table is wide open. We have to win and there is no other option,” said Khadka adding the two matches could be associated with Nepali cricket’s future. “We are at such a crucial juncture where we cannot afford to lose games. If we go into the Qualifiers through this tournament, we can open up doors for lots of things which will be very beneficial for Nepali cricket,” added the skipper. 

Nepal had their preparations in Chennai, India for the Hong Kong matches and Khadka is excited with the build-up. “We have worked very hard. The build-up has been pretty good for us and the players look in good touch. We are quite aware of the playing conditions in Hong Kong and now it all comes down to our planning and execution,” the skipper added.

Coach Jagat Tamatta believed more than pressure there is a big challenge awaiting his team. “Hong Kong will definitely have advantage because we are playing according to their conditions. We have a big challenge to prove ourselves and I believe the boys have done enough hard work to come up with their best,” said Tamatta. “Our boys have specific roles to play and they are pretty aware of their job. We have been playing against Hong Kong and we know each other very well. It is going to be tight contest and we need to give our best to get the better of our opponents,” the coach added.

Nepal have left for Hong Kong with a mixed team that includes three fast bowlers in Sompal Kami, Karan KC and Lalit Singh Bhandari—the new entrant in the team. KC is making a comeback into the team after undergoing operation ahead of Nepal’s game against Namibia, while seamer Bhandari is likely to be a second choice pick ahead of experienced fast bowlers. 

The selection headache will be for the quartet of spinners that included leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane, left-armers Sushil Kandel and Sushan Bhari Shrestha and veteran Basanta Regmi as batting allrounder Sagar Pun has always proved himself handy with the ball. Khadka has confirmed that Pun will opening the innings with Gyanendra Malla and will be expected to be followed by Sharad Vesawkar and Paras Khadka. 

The pressure will be on Binod Bhandari, wicket-keeping batsman, who has not performed lately but has still found a place in the team.

Standings

Teams P W L NR Pts NRR

Netherlands 12 8 2 2 18 +0.976

PNG 12 8 4 0 16 -0.241

Scotland 12 6 3 3 15 +0.354

Kenya 12 6 6 0 12 -0.147

Hong Kong 10 5 4 1 11 +0.996

Nepal 10 4 6 0 8 -0.211

Namibia 12 3 9 0 6 -0.547

UAE 12 3 9 0 6 -0.595

Published: 11-10-2017 08:56

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