Nepal face tough opener against Zimbabwe

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On the heels of a successful outing at the ICC World Cricket League Division Two in Namibia, the National cricket team of Nepal is back in the African continent, seeking bigger glory.

They are in Zimbabwe to compete for a spot in the 2019 World Cup taking place jointly in Wales and England. They face a much bigger, tougher challenge heading into the competition and will need another huge performance.

They have entered the tournament as the ultimate underdogs. Of the ten teams in the race, which include four Full ICC Members teams in the likes of the West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland and Afghanistan, Nepal ranks last.

Let us be honest here. Nepal’s chances of winning a ticket to the World Cup seems slim, however, we cannot completely write them off. Anything can happen. Who knows they might pull off another miracle. You never know.

There is plenty at stake for Nepal. Apart from the World Cup spots, the opportunity is there for them to earn the “One Day International (ODI) status” for four years. Three Associate Members will earn the ODI status based on where they stand at the conclusion of the qualifiers.

Obviously, Associate Members have got a lot to lose at the end of the day. Hence, it is absolutely important for Nepal to perform exceedingly well in order to advance to the Super Six Stage.

They are up against formidable seasoned opponents armed with batting and bowling depth. They are in an intriguing group along host Zimbabwe, Scotland and two very familiar Asian foes Afghanistan and Hong Kong.

The competition provides Team Nepal one big opportunity, not only to shine and prove themselves but write history. Again the million dollar question is, can they conquer the pinnacle of greatness?

Like everyone, I do not have a definitive answer at the moment. At the most, we can be optimistic, engage in guesswork or speculation and draw our own conclusions.

All I can say is that our cricketers have a stern test ahead of them. There is plenty of hard work still to be done to become serious contenders.

Understandably, the team is riding high after the Namibia success and have the momentum going into the competition. They need to continue where they left off.

Having said that, they face a much higher level of competition and quality opponents. They will need more than just momentum to make another miracle happen.

It is fair to say, inconsistent and poor batting is a chink in Nepal’s armour. Apparently, if the batting does not improve drastically, the team stands no chance of making an impact in the competition.

Photo: Raman Shiwakoti/CAN

Our Batting

The team’s brittle batting is still a big concern and is undermining the good work done by the bowlers. Like always, their success will largely hinge around how they bat throughout.

Skipper Paras Khadka had the honour of becoming the tournament’s top run-getter with the help of a scintillating century in Namibia. He will have to come up with another big performance.

No doubt, the team is heavily reliant on him. Regardless, he has to bat well and set the tone for the team.

As one of the openers, Vice-captain Gyanendra Malla has sunk into a batting slump, struggling with the bat lately. He has to turn things around quickly. After all, he is an indispensable part if the team batting.

Sharad Vesawkar, Dipendra Singh Airee, Arif Sheikh and Dilip Nath have not quite performed to their potential and struggled to get big scores.

It is imperative for the youngsters to learn from their mistakes.They must be able to dig in and bat with more purpose, discipline, conviction and confidence.They must seize the opportunity and prove their mettle, and it is high time to deliver.

Our Bowling

Nepal will rely on their bowling strength, which is key to their success.So far the bowlers have looked sharp and done pretty well. They have stood up to the task and played a pivotal role in the team’s success in the qualifiers in Namibia.They must give continuation to their excellent bowling performance

However, they cannot afford any of the leeways to make mistakes. They need to tighten up a bit and must avoid complacency at all cost. They are bound to come under pressure bowling against quality opposition and it all comes down to how they handle the situation.

Fans have high hopes pinned on the young shoulders of sensational Sandeep Lamichhane who is Nepal’s trump card. He has to prove he can deliver under pressure.

Sompal Kami, Karan KC, Basant Regmi and Shakti Gauchan have to give their very best and also need to up the ante.

Nepal has a tough opener against host Zimbabwe that has played in every World Cup to date. The odds are clearly stacked against them. It is a must for them to produce a top-notch performance to upset the apple cart.

There is literally no room for mediocrity, sloppiness and inconsistency. It is very important that they are at the top of their game, especially to make their presence felt in a big way. Otherwise, the qualifiers will only get tougher and tougher.

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