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Eyeing for a historic series win, Nepal lock horns against a depleted United Arab Emirates

- Adarsha Dhakal, DUBAI

Jan 25, 2019-

Nepal will be eyeing a historic series win as the latest entrants of the One-Day International (ODI) club lock horns against a depleted United Arab Emirates (UAE) side in a three-match ODI series starting on Friday here at the ICC Academy Oval.

After achieving the ODI status through the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers in March, Nepal have so far won only one out of three ODIs they have played. To bolster their ODI rankings, which would firstly only be listed after playing minimum six games, Nepal need to earn good rating points that can only be earned through a series victory.

UAE are without their regular skipper Rohan Mustafa and two other crucial members Ahmed Raza and Rameez Shahzad, who are serving an eight-month suspension from the Emirates Cricket Board. With another experienced cricketer Adnan Mufti now retired, Nepal have all the reasons to remain optimistic.

Nepal captain Paras Khadka, however, played down the significance of the UAE ‘absentees’. “Both the teams know each other very well and its all about how you execute you plan on the field. Plans mean for nothing if you don’t deliver it on the pitch. We can put them under pressure and the same could said of us,” Khadka said.

Nepal are currently in the Emirate capital with four new faces in their team including talented youngsters Pawan Sarraf, Bhim Sharki, Sandeep Jora and Pawan Sarraf. More than the outcome in the series, Khadka wants to take the series as a stepping stone to build a strong team for future.

“We are trying to build a very strong team in the next two years. If we want to compete against bigger Test-playing countries in ODI matches, you have to be very dominant against teams at your level. If we bring good results from this stage, we can get those few matches against big teams,” said Khadka. “We have a new generation of cricketers. The guys are young and we have to groom them in this environment. Its a long process to build a formidable team and we need to be patient,” the captain added.

Nepal are without experienced middle-order mainstay Sharad Vesawkar, who pulled out of the series due to severe weakness. The absence of Vesawkar has opened up places for players like Sharki, Sarraf and Jora. “Its an opportunity for the players to grab this spot (in absence of Vesawkar). We are trying to build healthy competition in out team,” added Khadka hinting any three new faces with the batting abilities that could sneak into the team.

Bhandari set to open

Explosive batsman Binod Bhandari is appears set to open batting for Nepal against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in their first of the three-match ODI series on Friday.

Many in the Nepali camp have been anticipating skipper Paras Khadka to take up the opening slot after the continuous failure in the top in recent years. National team batting consultant Umesh Patwal, however, said Khadka will be preferred for opening slot in 50-over game rather than in Twenty20s.

“Paras is good at No 3 in 50 overs and we are preparing him to open at Twenty20s,” Patwal told the Post. “We are looking if we can get Binod Bhandari to open the innings for us tomorrow (on Friday). He can play shots but we have directed him to play according to the merit of the ball, added Patwal.

Bhandari had batted in the opening order for national team in the 2010 Asian Games Twenty20 event in Guangzhou, China. He didn’t have the best of the start in China but made one handy contribution. He has been batting at the top order for his domestic team Tribhuvan Army Club. “We have made his role very clear. We want him to stick with the wicket for 10 overs and don’t care if he struggles in scoring runs as long as he keeps his wicket intact. He needs to have good judgment of the ball and play his shots accordingly,” added Patwal. Khadka outrightly rejected any plans of himself promoting up from his No 3 position.

Regmi in doubt

Veteran left-arm spinner Basanta Regmi is in doubt for Nepal’s first game are suffering from fever ever since the team’s arrival in Dubai. Regmi didn’t train with the team that underwent a two-hour session at the ICC Academy Oval. National team technical analyst Raman Shiwakoti said Regmi has not trained with the team for the last two days. The spinner’s absence could mean a place for Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi, who has been with the national team in international tournaments for quite a while but has not been getting enough chances.

Nepal’s Probable XI

Gyanendra Malla, Binod Bhandari, Paras Khadka, Dipendra Singh Airee, Aarif Sheikh, Bhim Sharki, Rohit Kumar Paudel, Sompal Kami, Karan KC, Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi, Sandeep Lamichhane

Published: 25-01-2019 09:04

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