Nepal focused to rewrite history
Aug 21, 2018-
Nepal set sights on a golden opportunity to play the world cricket giants India and Pakistan vie ACC Asia Cup Qualifier set for August 29 to September 6 in Malaysia.
Nepal will play familiar Associate rivals Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Malaysia and Singapore in the six-team Qualifier which sends only the winners into Asia Cup’s Group ‘A’ that consists of sub-continent archrivals India and Pakistan. Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are in Group ‘B’. Nepal are fine tuning their preparations in Sri Lanka where they will play three practice matches beginning from Wednesday.
It will be the second opportunity for Nepal to rub shoulders against Test-giants having previously qualified for 2004 edition following a second-place finish in the 2002 ACC Trophy in Singapore. But after the relations between India and Pakistan deteriorated due to political issues, the former decided to end all relations with Pakistan including cricket, resulting in the cancellation of that edition of Asia Cup.
“We had missed out on Asia Cup despite qualifying for the tournament but the opportunity has come once again,” said national team vice-captain Gyanendra Malla ahead of the team’s departure to Sri Lanka. “This could be a milestone for us. Its also a huge challenge at the other hand. But first up, we need to pass the first hurdle. Its time we put all our focus on the game.”
National team skipper Paras Khadka believed the team which can prove itself tactically sound will qualify for the Asia Cup. “It will come down to tactical move because all the participating teams are quite familiar to each other. The boys are well prepared and when the tournament begins we want to put in our best performance,” said Khadka after Speaker of the House of Representatives Krishna Bahadur Mahara bade farewell to the team at his residence in Baluwatar.
Nepal are well aware of the playing conditions in Malaysia, a place from where its cricket took off after lifting the 2012 ICC World Cricket League Division 4 title. Khadka played down claims that Nepal are the favourites considering their familiarity with the playing conditions.
“All teams are at par in Asian conditions. It is only a fact that we are above all participating teams in terms of ranking. But in cricket we have to start it all over again. We just need to play the way we have been playing in the last one year. The Qualifier is an opportunity for us to prove ourselves,” added Khadka.
From being a member of Nepal’s first ever international cricket team to a coach who guided Nepal to maiden victory in their debut ODI series, Jagat Tamatta is now close to leading his team against the likes of India and Pakistan. But Tamatta wants his boys to remain grounded. “Asia Cup Qualifier is a very good platform for us. The boys will give their everything to make sure they get the chance to play against global giants India and Pakistan,” said Tamatta adding the confidence gained through recent performances will be helpful.
“We are excited to get this opportunity,” said Tamatta. “Considering the performance we have been giving in the last one year, the confidence is sky high. We are close to re-write history but we have to play well against the opponents who are familiar. Its all about getting clicked at the right moment.”
With the retirement of veteran left-arm spinner Shakti Gauchan and long injury layoff of middle-order mainstay Sharad Vesawkar, Nepal have brought in allrounder Sagar Pun and hard-hitting Binod Bhandari.
Tamatta believed the two players will be keen to leave their poor form behind. “Lately, Sagar and Bhandari have been playing pretty well. Sagar did well in the Malaysian Premier League where he was named the player-of-the-series and best batsman. Bhandari had looked more matured as a cricketer in few domestic tournaments. They are ideal replacements for Shakti and Sharad. They will perfectly fit in the team combination,” the coach added.
Published: 21-08-2018 08:59