They say test cricket is the best format of cricket and most of the genuine cricket fans agree with this. While all the formats of cricket are equally important in their own places, test cricket has its own value. Most of the cricketers around the world want to represent their country in test matches. But its very unfortunate that we have just 10 test playing nations and the position of someone like Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are constantly questioned. At the same time Afghanistan and Ireland are pushing themselves for test spots with impressive limited overs show.
Nepal has had reasonable success in a year or so in the limited overs format. Nepal finished 7th in the ICC T20 world qualifiers before sharing ACC Elite Trophy with UAE. As far as I remember, there used to be a three day games which have now been scrapped for the sake of ACC T20. While teams in the upper division play 4 day intercontinental cups, Nepal is deprived of even that. Hope in the days to come, Nepal achieves everything what we have been dreaming today.
This is my attempt to list 11 best players of Nepal if we were to play test matches. This is just my personal team and may differ from the rest. Just to create the right balance of the team, I had left out some of my personal favourite cricketers. I request the players and their supporters not to take this otherwise if any particular name is missed as this is my personal view. My playing XI in terms of batting order will be as follows:
1. Anil Mandal: He has opened the batting for Nepal for quite some time now. A regular in the national team for the 50 over matches should be an automatic choice for most of us. In fact he is sometimes criticized for his slow batting but he has had reasonable success with that approach and there is no reason why he can’t replicate his limited overs form into the longest format.
2. Sagar Pun: Selecting a second opener was always going to be a problem. In limited overs, we had Subash Khakurel successfully opening the batting, but teams hardly open the batting with a wicketkeeper in test matches just to reduce his workload. Paresh Lohani is the first name that came to my mind but looking at my lineup, as there was no any specialist offspinner, I decided to keep in Sagar Pun. He opened the batting in age level cricket and has had some success too. He bowls more than handy offspin and is a good fielder as well.
3. Gyanendra Malla: May be some of you would have liked Sharad Veswakar at this position but I have selected Gyanendra Malla. He is regarded as the technically Nepal’s best batsman and this is not an unfamiliar position for him either. He batted at number 3 during the recently concluded ACC Elite Trophy with good success. He is a kind of batsman who can hold up one end as well as score quickly
4. Paras Khadka: This is the position where South African allrounder Jacques Kallis bats for South Africa and this the position where Paras Khadka should bat for Nepal. He is no doubt Nepal’s best batsman. He can bat as much as he like and change his game according to the situation.
5. Sharad Veswakar: I have kept Sharad Veswakar at number 5. His role will be similar to India’s VVS Laxman, Sri Lanka’s Thilan Samaraweera or Pakistan’s Misbahul Haq. If the team is having a good start, he has to rotate the strike and play the second game. If we have lost 3 quick wickets, his role will be to occupy one end and prevent further collapse.
6. Pradeep Airee: At number 6, you mostly have someone who can rotate the strike and also play big shot. I had quite a few choices for this position but I felt Pradeep Airee is the best one for this. His role will be someone like Angelo Mathews has been doing for Sri Lanka. Prithu was also an option but I chose Pradeep as he is in form too. Mehboob Alam could also be included but he has turned into more of a bowling allrounder rather than a batting allrounder.
7. Subash Khakurel: I think the choice for this position was between two players Subash Khakurel and Mahesh Chhetri. While Mahesh might be a be a better keeper but Subash is a better batsman. I have selected Subash on the basis of recent success in the short formats.
8. Shakti Gauchan: Well everybody would be happy with Shakti in their team, some of his supporters may not agree with me regarding his batting position. At the moment, Shakti is in prime bowling form and the team needs him as a bowler than as a batman. Although there is no doubt about his batting abilities but yet to cut down his workload, he is played as a bowler. Daniel Vettory had successes with bat too even batting at 8.
9. Basanta Regmi: He will be an automatic choice in most teams. Considered to be the rescue man of Nepal, you can expect him to deliver when Nepal needs him whether in batting, bowling and fielding.
10. Amrit Bhattarai: He is also a regular member of the limited overs squad with good success. He will provide a left arm variety in the team in the absence of Mehboob Alam. He is regarded as good swing bowler and can surprise a batsman with short pitched stuff.
11. Chandra Saud: For the second seamer position, I had quite a few choices. Krishna Karki is too raw to me. Binod Das would have been a good asset to the team with good line and length and his ability to swing the ball as well. He could also score some handy runs down the order. But I have opted for some extra pace in Chandra Saud. Having a quick bowler provides you a kind of X factor. Binod Das will be my 12th man.