Following a very short lull, the national cricket team of Nepal is back in action. They have a frenetic and hectic schedule in front of them.
Currently, the team is in England for the 20-over triangular series. Then they proceed to the Netherlands to make their international debut in the one day 50-Over format against the Netherlands, playing two matches.
At the end of August, they depart to Malaysia to participate in the Asia Cup Qualifiers. Undoubtedly,they have an exhausting and challenging task at hand. True test awaits them, and it would be interesting to see how well they stand up to the pressure and challenge.
They will have to show great character, coupled with mental strength and physical fitness to get the desired result.
Skipper Paras Khadka spearheads a team with a blend of both experience and youth, and it is dominated by all-rounders.
Barring a few, the selectors have retained virtually the same squad that played in the African
Continent not to long ago.
While Binod Bhandari and Sagar Pun have been overlooked for the European tour, wicket-keeper batsman Subash Khakurel makes a comeback.
Opener Gyanendra Malla has been picked despite his recent poor form. The bowling department is dominated by spinners with rising star Sandeep Lamichhane as the trump card.
The spin attack appears formidable but in comparison the pace attack looks rather thin with only two genuine pacers in medium-fast Sompal Kami and right-arm Karan KC in the team.
Nepal is all set for the single day Twenty20 triangular taking place at the historical Lord’s. This
is the first competition, the team is playing after attending the ODI status.
It may be recalled that Nepal played at Lord’s for the first time against Marylebone Cricket Club
(MCC) in an exhibition in 2016, which they won by 41 runs.
In the triangular, Team Nepal faces MMC and the Netherlands. MMC consisting of current and former internationals and led by former captain of Sri Lanka Mahela Jayawardene. On paper, they are the favorites to win the competition.
Leave MMC out of the picture, the clash between Nepal and the Netherlands is of bigger interest and importance. Since the match has received the status of a full International T20 match,the final outcome of the match is what matters most to both teams.
In the Netherlands, Nepal has a fairly strong and talented opposition who are currently in a transitional phase rebuilding the team.
Let me remind you at Lord’s, in the 2009 T20 World Cup,the Netherlands completed a famous and dramatic last ball win over England.
Nepal does stand a good chance against the Netherlands provided they put in a consistent solid batting performance and tidy fielding.
As part of the preparation, Nepal played a series of T20 and 50 over warm up matches against local English outfits lacking quality. Nonetheless,they got valuable practice playing against them.
Also they were able to build confidence and acclimatize themselves to the unpredictable English conditions.
Of the four friendlies, Nepal won three and lost one. Fragile batting still remains a concern for the
It was encouraging to see batsmen produce big knocks in friendly matches. It is imperative that they replicate the warmup successes in the Triangular competition and beyond to corner glory. Skipper Khadka, the team’s batting mainstay, must show his magical touch with the bat. Sharad Vesawkar and the young-troop Anil Kumar Sah, Aarif Sheikh and Dipendra Singh Airee have to shine with the bat and live up to their potential.
Vice Captain Malla must get runs to prove critics wrong. Nepal still lacks a reliable opening pair. In form youngster Sah deserves a chance to open the innings.
There is not much to worry about the bowling.That said,bowlers have to maintain consistency level and bowl their hearts out. Long as Nepal can put the pieces together, I fancy their chances.