The men’s national cricket team of Nepal got off to a losing start in the ICC World Cup Qualifier in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Head coach Monty Desai boys’ needed a dream start against hosts Zimbabwe to gain an early foothold in the competition, but it didn’t materialize.
It just wasn’t their day. Instead they were squarely beaten by the home team much to the delight of the boisterous partisan supporters.
In an exhibition of solid, confident and disciplined batting, Zimbabwe comprehensively defeated Nepal by eight wickets in 44.1 overs.
Obviously, Nepal lacked the firepower in the bowling department. Despite the presence of three pacers, as it turned out they were a pacer short for the bouncy pitch.
The bowling attack was further crippled in the absence of Sompal Kami who left the field after suffering finger injury while fielding .
At the time he was midway through his fifth over which he did not complete. He was the pick of the bowlers with a wicket in his kitty.
Let us hope that the injury is not serious and he is in a position to play in upcoming matches.
With pacers in short supply, it is a matter of concern for the team management. Also it means additional workload for speedsters Karan KC and youngster Gulshan Jha.
Talented Jha put in a decent performance and claimed a wicket. If he progresses at this rate he has great prospects.
Even a spin bowler of Sandeep Lamichhane caliber was of little help to the team. He was far from his best and got nothing from the pitch.
He went wicketless in his ten over spell giving away 77 runs. This is one of the poorest performances of his career. I am confident that he will bounce back with winning performances which we are so used to seeing.
It is imperative that the bowlers get their act together, refocus, regain confidence and composure and come out firing on all cylinders. Their contribution will be crucial and key in the team’s comeback effort.
The setback can be looked through a positive lens. The brilliant batting was the silver lining in defeat.
The batters were in their own element and batted sensibly, courageously and confidently against the opponent’s well coordinated pace attack. They posted a challenging total of 290 for 8 in the allocated 50 overs.
A record breaking 171 run partnership for the opening wicket between Kushal Bhurtel and Aasif Sheikh was the highlight of Nepal’s innings.
The openers got on top of bowlers and dominated the proceedings with an array of exciting and delightful shots.
Bhurtel was one run away from his well deserved century but became a victim of nervous 90s falling for 99.
Three runs later Sheikh followed him with a well made 66. Kushal Malla scored a useful 41 off 42 balls.
Combining both teams innings, the favorable batting pitch produced close to six hundred runs.
It is a must for top order batters to be consistent with the bat and continue posting challenging totals for opponents. To add, the tailenders have to make handy contribution to boost the total.
Coach Monty Desai must consider including experienced batter former skipper Gyanendra Malla in the playing eleven to solidify the batting order.
Nepal takes on the United States next. They have to put in a solid winning performance in order to put themselves back in the competition and build momentum going forward.
Every fixture from here on is vital for Nepal to keep their qualifying hopes alive. They cannot afford another hiccup, and a defeat is most likely to put an end to their campaign.