Nepal must aim to salvage pride against Hong Kong

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There was no respite for Nepal as they succumbed to yet another defeat, the third in a row, at
the hands of Afghanistan, putting themselves on the cusp of World Cup Qualifiers exit in
Zimbabwe.

At this point, Nepal has been left with a slim mathematical chance to advance to the round of super sixes.

They are languishing at the bottom of the table with the lowest net run-rate. As things stand, prospects for the team looks increasingly dim.

Only an overwhelming and decisive victory over Hong Kong with a very healthy net run-rate enough to overtake both Hong Kong and Afghanistan in their final match can see them through to the next round.

The target is statistically improbable, especially for Nepal that is underperforming and failing to meet expectations.That said, it is a sport and anything can/could happen. Let us keep our fingers crossed.

For the second successive match, Nepal won the toss but the decision to bat first backfired as they crashed to another defeat, leaving them teetering on the edge of a cliff.

Against Afghanistan, Nepal had to play to win to keep their super sixes hopes alive. Batting first, they needed solid innings and a very competitive target to keep the opposition on the back foot.

The batsmen carried a huge burden in a pressure situation to score big but fell agonizingly short of a fighting total.

Paras Khadka
Paras Khadka hits another half-century (75) against Afghanistan in ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers. Photo: ICC

Skipper Paras Khadka, once again, lets his bat do the talking. He anchored the innings with the help of a swashbuckling 75 from 82 balls.

After he departed, the team was back in familiar territory, the trickle of runs slowed to a drip. Minus Khadka’s knock, Dipendra Singh Airee (32) Gyanendra Malla(23) and Aarif Sheikh(23) made small but handy contributions.

The Afghan bowling attack spearheaded by skipper Rashid Khan did well to end Nepal’s innings in the 49th over and restricting the total to 194 runs.

The onus was back on Nepal bowlers, but they failed to produce the form to upstage the opponent. Both frontline spinners Sandeep Lamichhane and Basant Regmi struggled quite a bit and came under assault.

Captain Khadka employed as many as seven bowlers with very limited success. Young medium pacer Airee with two wickets was the pick of the bowlers. By and large, the bowlers were far from their best.

Needing to win big, Afghanistan did it in style in just 38th over with some sensible and aggressive batting.

Now Afghanistan anxiously awaits the result of Nepal vs Hong Kong fixture. Their Fate entirely hinges on the outcome.

The math is very simple, a narrow win for Nepal means Afghanistan is in the round of super sixes, otherwise, Hong Kong advances.

It is a tall order for Nepal as they need to win big to get past Afghanistan’s net run-rate. Afghanistan entered the competition with high expectations and the favourites tag. Contrary to expectations, it has been a reversal of fortunes for them.

This is a game called cricket full of uncertainties, and there is no such thing called guaranteed
or granted.

Winless Nepal has to salvage some pride against Hong Kong. They are up against a side that is desperately in pursuit of victory who will throw everything to assure themselves the most important success.

We have all seen it, what Hong Kong is capable of? As for Nepal, they must put in individual commitment to a group effort to succeed. That’s all I have to say.

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