Currently, the men’s national cricket team of Nepal is in Canada to play a series of matches starting 1st July before they head to Scotland.
The tour starts with two friendly matches in Ontario, followed by two One-dayers (50-Over) against the Canadian national team on July 5th and 6th.
The visitors got off to a winning start against MLCC XI in a 50-over match. They won by 69 runs. They registered a comprehensive 55-run victory against Ontario in the T20 match.
The warm-up win was a morale booster for the team and, more importantly, riding on this momentum against Canada in the two ODIs is a must for a positive outcome.
Players get yet another chance to showcase their talent and shine. They have to put in extra effort to work on their shortcomings to minimize them. Getting into a positive frame of mind and achieving a hundred percent focus and concentration on their performance is a must.
From Canada, they fly to Scotland to compete in the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 tri-series featuring Nepal, Namibia and Scotland.
As per the format of the competition, Nepal will play a total of four matches two times each against Scotland and Namibia.
The tour comes close on the heels of the senior team’s somewhat disappointing performance in the aforementioned competition held in Houston, Texas, US recently.
The United States, Nepal and Oman competed for maximum points at stake. In the standings Oman sits on top with 44 points, followed by Scotland(28 points), United Arab Emirates (26 points), United States of America (23 points), Nepal(15 points), Namibia(14 points) and Papua New Guinea (2 points).
It was a mixed bag for Nepal in terms of performance and result. They concluded the league with one win, one draw and two defeats.
On the batting front, there were some encouraging signs. The Sheikh brothers Aasif(62,18 & 61) and Aarif (63 & 66) stole the batting honours with two half-centuries each from 3 and 2 matches respectively.
Opener Kushal Bhurtel(56), highly rated middle-order batsman Rohit Paudel(62) and emerging batter Dev Khanal(54) also scored a one-half century each.
Despite a flurry of half centuries, the inconsistency in their performance has not helped the team achieve the goal. In other words, consistency is a key element missing in Nepal’s batting.
In contrast, the bowlers have been consistently performing all along. They were up to the task in Houston. Experienced speedster Karan KC made a big impact capturing 13 wickets.
Skipper and leg spinner Sandeep Lamichanne was far from his best but still managed to scalp 7 wickets, while medium pacer and experienced Sompal Kami ended up with 4 wickets,
Experienced all-rounder Dipendra Airee was a disappointment based on his performance. His contribution was limited to 2 wickets, and he struggled for runs.
Having earned just four points, Nepal has 15 points and is third from the bottom. Although they have only played 16 matches compared to Oman’s 36, they cannot drop points in order to consolidate their position and give themselves a chance in the competition.
The top three advance to the 2023 Cricket World Cup Qualifier, while the bottom four will have to compete in the 2022 ICC World Cup Qualifier play-off.
Nepal is still in contention and can emerge as one of the three top teams in the group. I am cautiously optimistic about their chances.
Having said that, everyone agrees that Nepal as a unit must turn in a vastly improved performance and make a quick turnaround to finish in the top three.
It is doable but requires a lot of hard work, commitment and collective effort. However, I am a little sceptical because we haven’t seen the kind of performance to convince us that they can do it so far.
Given Nepal’s performances in recent internationals, they have been very inconsistent. They have failed to achieve back-to-back decent performance.
The fact of the matter is, that Nepal has not lived up to expectations. Overall the performance has been a tale of mediocrity, inconsistency and brittle batting, coupled with a lack of confidence, composure and temperament.
Batting has been Nepal’s Achilles tendon for a considerable period of time. Unfortunately, it continues to be so to date.
Since the retirement of the former skipper of the national team Paras Khadka, batting has gone from bad to worse. The void left by him is yet to be filled.
In hope of improving and solidifying the batting department, national selectors have kept reshuffling the batting order and tried out numerous batsmen time and time again but to no avail.
Overlooking highly experienced former skipper Gyanendra Malla for the Houston, Canada and Scotland series was a blunder on the part of national selectors.
He might have gone through a lean phase lately but he is far from finished. He certainly provides depth to the team’s rickety batting order and motivation to the young team.
The selectors have gone for fresh young blood by picking uncapped all-rounder Basir Ahamed and hard-hitting Aadil Ansari,
Top-order batting is still fragile and a major concern for Nepal. The new breed of batsmen in the likes of Kushal Bhurtel, Rohit Paudel, Dev Khanal, the Sheikh brothers Aarif and Aasif and many more have the potential to achieve great heights.
Success can be attainable unless they transform themselves into accomplished batsmen. Keeping that in mind, they have to work on their technical flaws, be disciplined, amp up self-confidence, believe in themselves and undertake plenty of hard work and practice towards improving performance.
Also, they must overcome the pressure, rigour and expectations of international cricket. In addition, there is an urgency to embrace the challenge with greater responsibility. They have to go the extra yard with batting.
Young Lamichhane must not let captaincy pressure impact his performance. He should not forget that his performance is key to the team’s success.
Nepal has to demonstrate its ability to produce and win matches collectively.