Nepal face another stern test against Scotland

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In a high scoring match that produced two centuries, hosts Zimbabwe convincingly beat underdogs Nepal by 116 runs in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

After sealing a comfortable victory on an opening day, Zimbabwe makes their intentions clear. The highlight of the match was Sikandar Raza’s superlative all-around performance.

Player of the match Raza hit a scintillating 123 and scalped three wickets for 48 runs. Brendan Ross Murray Taylor was the other centurion with 100 runs.

Batting first Zimbabwe amassed a mammoth 380/6.The batsmen made batting look easy, punishing bowlers who were erratic and out of their element.

For the first time in as many matches, Nepal’s bowling department struggled to make an impact and left much to be desired on a pitch that favoured batsmen. In other words, they underperformed. This certainly wasn’t expected.

Although the team employed a spin-dominated attack spearheaded by Sandeep Lamichhane, they largely failed to make headway and restrict the opposition who were engaged in a run fest.

Even Lamichhane was far from his best by his standards. In 10 overs he claimed a disappointing solitary wicket, conceding 67 runs.

The youngster is the cynosure of all eyes. Every time he has the ball in his hand, expectations are high. He has to maintain a razor-sharp focus and not get carried away.

Debutante spinner Lalit Rajbhansi who bowled a full quota of 10 overs made a promising start. He showed confidence, kept his composure and did pretty well to finish with a wicket for 62 runs.He was the most economical bowler.

The third spinner Basant Regmi accounted for two wickets at the cost of 69 runs. Likewise, Sompal Kami walked away with 2 wickets but batsmen made mincemeat of his medium pace bowling. He ended up giving away 82 runs in 8 overs. And other part-time bowlers also came under heavy assault.

No doubt, Team Nepal heavily relies on its bowling strength.The bowlers must quickly rebound, regroup and find their groove to ease the pressure off batsmen.

The form and effectiveness of bowlers will be crucial to the team’s success in the upcoming three matches.

Everyone knew it was not going to be easy for Team Nepal by any stretch of the imagination,
and Zimbabwe was a very big nut to crack. Evidently, they had to give 100 percent, be it
batting or bowling or fielding, to cause an upset.That did not happen eventually.

Given the brittle batting of Nepal, the imposing target of 380 set up by Zimbabwe was beyond
reach as it turned out to be so.Despite the defeat, we can take positives from the game.

The batsmen did their best to score 264 in 50 overs. We finally got to see useful knocks from
Sharad Vesawkar (52), Aarif Sheikh (50), Paras Khadka (40), Gyanendra Malla(33) and Rohit K
Paudel(40).

At 15, Rohit K Paudel is not only a rookie but the youngest player in the ongoing qualifiers. His batting prowess has been the talk of the town.

The high schooler, undoubtedly, is the find of the African Continent challenge. Hard to believe he
has batted and is batting magnificently under challenging circumstances at this level of the
competition.

A lot more is needed from batsmen, and they must step up to the crease and play big innings.
They are rendered a glorious opportunity to shine with the bat and deliver when the team
desperately needs it.

Understandably, it was not the kind of start Nepal wanted. Now there is more pressure on
them, following the reversal. The pressure to perform has increased two-fold. This, however,
should not deter them from rising to the occasion.

From this point onwards, it is all about moving ahead, withstanding and overcoming all
obstacles in their way to succeed.

With three matches to go, Nepal must win two at least to advance to the round of six, else, their chances are virtually dead.

They are yet in another must-win situation to boost their chances of success. At this point they
still, control their own destiny.

They will be severely tested over three matches. There is plenty on the line for teams seeking
“One Day International” (ODI) status. Nepal is one of them.Should they squander the opportunity, they have most to lose.

Nepal braces up to face other formidable opponents in Scotland who prevailed over Afghanistan, one of the favorites. They have to be totally on top of their game to have a chance in the important fixture.

Team Nepal has to go back to the drawing board. The bottom line is, they must do a much a better job as a team and as individuals to be in contention.

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