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    Plenty at stake for rising Nepal

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    It’s really hard to give back after you earn something with so much dedication and hard work. Nepal earned berth at the ICC T20 Word Cup 2014 in Bangladesh after securing a hard-fought third spot in ICC WCQ 2013. Most of the matches Nepal played during that campaign were last over thrillers.

    Few people expected Nepal to qualify then. Two years later, Nepal is more in a serious situation to perform even better and get into the 2016 T20 Word Cup. But the task now will be tougher this time round partly because the seaming Irish and Scotland pitches doesn’t suit the nature Nepal plays the game. Also, teams like Hong Kong, Namibia, PNG have gotten stronger than ever. There is plenty at stake for rising Nepal whether to give back what they earned or to show the world that they are ready for even big challenges.

    Nepal marches into the competition after a series of preparation- first in India and a four match bilateral series against pre-tournament favorites Netherlands. In the four matches played against Himanchal Pradesh state team, Nepal tied the series 2-2, while Nepal went on to lose 3-1 to Netherlands.

    More troubling is the weakness that was exposed against both teams rather than important of tying or losing those series. Failed opening combinations, middle order disappointments, and heavy reliance on skipper Paras Khadka and spinners to win the matches- Nepal hasn’t improved much comparing where they were two years back.

    Nepal tested much for the opening slot, but only with the old players. Had they tested youngster Siddhnat Lohani or Pradeep Airee at the top rather than Sagar Pun or Gyanendra Malla, it could have been a different story. Instead, the team management insisted on Subash Khakurel, and Sagar Pun, and all we have got is failure.

    Batting certainly need improvements, and if any other batsman apart from Paras Khadka shall step up and take responsibility, Nepal will perform a lot better in the tournament. Sharad’s recent form has been the other positive sign for Nepal besides Khadka.

    If there is anything Nepal shouldn’t worry about is their bowling. With frontline pacers Sompal Kami, and Karan KC, medium packer Jitendra Mukhiya at the deaths, spin wizards Shakti Gauchan, and Basant Regmi to take wickets in middle overs, Paras Khadka, and Sagar Pun as options; Nepal has arguably got the best bowling line-up in the tournament.

    Nepal stays in Group A alongside Ireland, Hong Kong, PNG, Namibia, USA, and Jersey which is relatively easy than Group B. But the standard of cricket Ireland, Hong Kong, and PNG are playing is outstanding. They have been blasting tons of runs against opponents in T20 format, and all have got ODI status. Even Namibia, and USA have got better of Nepal in previous encounter, so they can’t be counted off.

    Nepal can still test either Pradeep Airee or the young Siddhant Lohani at the top, the current opening combination of Subash Khakurel and Sagar Pun has been too vulnerable. The batting needs to click if Nepal is to finish in the top six.

    Nepal’s fixtures for the tournament.
    Fri Jul 10 (20 ovs)
    14:15 local | 13:15 GMT
    19:00 NPT ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier
    5th Match, Group A – Nepal v United States of America
    Civil Service Cricket Club, Stormont, Belfast

    Sat Jul 11 (20 ovs)
    14:15 local | 13:15 GMT
    19:00 NPT ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier
    10th Match, Group A – Namibia v Nepal
    Civil Service Cricket Club, Stormont, Belfast

    Mon Jul 13 (20 ovs)
    14:15 local | 13:15 GMT
    19:00 NPT ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier
    18th Match, Group A – Ireland v Nepal
    Civil Service Cricket Club, Stormont, Belfast

    Wed Jul 15 (20 ovs)
    14:15 local | 13:15 GMT
    19:00 NPT ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier
    26th Match, Group A – Hong Kong v Nepal
    Civil Service Cricket Club, Stormont, Belfast

    Fri Jul 17 (20 ovs)
    10:00 local | 09:00 GMT
    14:45 NPT ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier
    29th Match, Group A – Nepal v Papua New Guinea
    The Village, Malahide, Dublin

    Sat Jul 18 (20 ovs)
    10:00 local | 09:00 GMT
    14:45 NPT ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier
    34th Match, Group A – Jersey v Nepal
    The Village, Malahide, Dublin

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