Sports

Nepal relegated with a round to spare

  • Lose a chance for automatic entry to 2018 ICC World Cup Qualifiers
  • To bid for qualification vie Divison 2 tournament
  • ICC world cricket league championship
- BINOD PANDEY, HONG KONG

Oct 17, 2017-Nepal were relegated to Division 2 after their second match of the ICC World Cricket League Championship (WCLC) against Hong Kong in the sixth round was abandoned without a ball being bowled in Mong Kok on Monday.

After a tropical storm passed through Hong Kong, it witnessed a massive rain almost throughout the day before the match was called off. In the away fixtures, Nepal had needed to defeat Hong Kong in both the matches and produce victories against United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the final round to finish inside the top four for a place in the 2018 Cricket World Cup Qualifiers.

But after they lost the first match by 83 runs, the path for the Qualifiers was already tough before rain on Monday closed the doors for a direct entry. Nepal will now play in WCL Division 2 in Namibia early next year where they need to make it to the final for a place in the Qualifiers. The result also meant that the Netherlands and Papua New Guinea earn tickets to the World Cup Qualifiers set for next year in Zimbabwe. Two more spots are still up for the grabs from the WCLC.

Canada, Oman, Nepal, Namibia and UAE along with another relegated team from the WCLC will make the six Division 2 teams. Before the final round fixtures against the UAE, Nepal have nine points from 12 games, while Hong Kong can still automatically qualify for the Qualifiers if they win their last two games against Papua New Guinea (PNG).

After the completion of six rounds, the Netherlands currently lead the table with 18 points, while PNG (16), Scotland (15), Hong Kong (14) and Kenya (12) are behind them. Nepal skipper Paras Khadka sees Division 2 as an opportunity. “Division 2 is an opportunity for us to improve ourselves. We were unable to play according to our capability here (Hong Kong) and we have to start from the scratch now,” said Khadka.

Nepal coach Jagat Tamatta admitted that making it through to Qualifiers from Division 2 is going to be comparatively tougher. “We had an opportunity here (in WCLC) to get a direct entry but its going to be very tough in the Division 2. We are sad to go back to Division 2,” said Tamatta.

Nepal had finished fourth in the Division 2 in Namibia two years ago but ICC had given them an opportunity to compete in WCLC—a Division 1 tournament—after Ireland and Afghanistan joined the 10 full members in the ranking-based qualification system for the 2019 World Cup.

Skipper Khadka apologised to Nepali supporters and fans for not meeting their expectations. “Its not practical to bring in new players to the team just by their performance in one single national tournament. We have selected the best from the lot,” said the captain. “If the team doesn’t win, we have to answer a lot of questions. Being the captain and a member of the selection committee, I will take this responsibility. I want to apologise to the fans. We will try to guide Nepal into the Qualifiers through Division 2,” added Khadka.

It was Khadka’s first competitive international tournament since being rested for the game against Kenya and Emerging Teams Cup following a surgery to treat appendicitis in February this year. His performance was instrumental when Nepal defeated away team the Netherlands in one of the fourth round match.

The Netherlands have lost only two matches in the WCLC. “A team that we

defeated are on top of the standings and they are playing well. We conceded a few games from the winning position and that made a huge impact,” Khadka said.

Published: 17-10-2017 08:26

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