Nepal will start the U-19 Cricket World Cup campaign as it takes on the host and the defending champion Australia in Tony Ireland Stadium, Townsville on Monday.
The exciting match starts at 05:15 AM Nepali Standard Time. Australia, the tournament favorites defeated England in the first match of the tournament by six wickets on Saturday. England, on Sunday defeated Ireland by seven wickets.
Nepal is participating in the U-19 World Cup for the sixth time. They failed to qualify for the 2010 edition. Nepal’s best performance in the U19 World Cup is considered to be the Plate Championship which they won in 2006 in Sri Lanka defeating New zealand in the finals though Nepal reached the super league in 2000 edition, Nepal’s first appearance.
Nepal lost to Zimbabwe and West Indies in 2002 and 2008 respectively in the Plate Championships Finals. Had already caused major upsets in the tournaments, Nepal has been given a tag “Giant Killers”. Nepal have the good record of beating South Africa, New Zealand.
Nepal, however, is concerned of the fitness of the team. SKipper Prithu, who got an ankle injury during the warm-up match against Papua New Guinea on Tuesday, is said to be fit for the action, but we have to wait for his play. Physio has said Baskota and Avinash Karn are fit and could play.
Nepal coach Pubudu Dassanayake is confident of a good show against the kangaroos. Nepali batsmen Naresh Budhayer and Subash Khakurel are in good form and Hasim Ansari is looking good in the order. Budhayer scored 114 runs against New Zealand on Wednesday in a warm-up match while Khakurel completed half centuries in both the warm-up matches. Ansari scored 81 runs against PNG on Tuesday.
Nepal’s problem is however, Pradeep Airee’s opening. Discussion are high into his potentiality in the upper order and people have started suggesting him to handle the middle order. Nepali bowlers did not seem wo well during the warm up matches. Nepal lost to PNG by 8 wickets and New Zealand by 19 runs in the warm up matches.
Nepal and Australia have met twice in the U-19 World Cup history where Nepal lost both the matches. Nepal lost by six wickets in the plate championship round in the 2004 in Bangladesh. Likewise, Australia crushed Nepal by 96 runs in the group stage of 2008 edition of the U-19 World Cup held in Malaysia.