National, Nepal Men

Preview: Nepal takes on arch-rivals Afghanistan

Kathmandu – The Silver Medal winner of the previous Asian Games – Afghanistan, will take a spirited side, dying to win a Medal in this Asian Games, Nepal, in the quarter-finals of the Asian Games Cricket 2014 on Wednesday 6:15 AM NST at Yeonhui Cricket Ground, Incheon, South Korea.

Nepal were knocked out of the quarter finals of the Asian Games, 2010 by Sri lanka in a close encounter by 2 wickets. Had Nepal posted a target above 90 or 100 runs rather than the 70 runs they scored against Sri Lanka, it would have been a different story.

Four years since then, Nepal has had a marvellous achievement in T20 cricket having done well in the ICC T20 World Cup, 2014. Nepal’s road to the quarter finals was too easy against teams like Kuwait and Maldives, though their performance against Maldives was a bit shaky.

Everything looks fine for Nepal except their batting. Nepal’s long search for a formidable opening pair is yet to be accomplished. Subash Khakurel looks fine but his partner Sagar Pun is vulnerable at the top. He could possibly be replaced by Pradeep Airee as Nepal can’t take too many chances against Afghanistan. The middle order is fine and bowling looks fine as well in both departments, spin and pace.

Nepali players hasn’t been involved in any matches apart from the practice matches against each other after the world cup. Whereas Afghan players has played the domestic tournament and has some international outings too. They played a four match series against Zimbabwe two month ago. This could make a difference as well.

Toss would be crucial as well. The team that wins the toss will probably bowl first as both Afghanistan and Nepal are comfortable chasing the target. The ground and the pitch is a newly built one so its hard to expect a high scoring match.

Nepal Squad: Pradeep Airee, Mehaboob Alam, Binod Bhandari, Naresh Budayair, Shakti Gauchan, Ram Naresh Giri, Bhuwan Karki, Parash Khadka(c), Subash Khakurel(wk), Gyanendra Malla(vc), Jitendra Mukhiya, Basanta Regmi, Sagar Pun, Sompal Kami, Sharad Vesawkar

Afghanistan couldn’t achieve their dream of winning a gold in Asian Games 2010, as they were disheartened by Bangladesh in the final by three wickets. Afghanistan had made their international debut in 2010, appearing in the ICC World T20 in the West Indies and the spirited team of Afghans were eager to leave a mark against teams like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Though these teams didn’t fielded their big team, their A teams were enough for Associates to have a go at. Afghanistan defeated Pakistan in the Semi-finals to held their head high, only to lose Bangladesh in the finals in a tight match. Following the footsteps of the test nations, this time though, Afghanistan too have sent their A team to compete in the tournament. Afghan National Team, currently is in the Australia and New Zealand to prepare for the upcoming 50- over ICC World Cup in 2015.

If the Afghan’s Coach for the Asian Games, Raees Ahmadzai, is to be believed, he said that they are here to win a gold this time. “We had 15 days training camp in Kabul and a nice region T20 tournament in Kabul. We have good chance to win this tournament. We are ready to win the gold medal.I would love to come back with a gold medal and it’s my dream to win the gold medal as a coach for my country,” said Ahmadzai.

Afghanistan has sent a young squad this time. The squad has been selected on the basis of their performance in the domestic T20 tournament accompanied by some of the senior players including Captain Mohammad Nabi, allrounders Samiullah Shinwari and Gulbadin Naib and Veteran wicketkeeper batsman Mohammad Shahzad who have been left out of the squad that is preparing for the World Cup, 2015. The team also features some promising youths including Najeeb Tarakai who played for the Afghan team at the ICC T20 World Cup, 2014, Mohammad Mujtaba who guided the Afghanistan under-19 side to the quarter-finals of the ICC Under-19 World Cup, 2014 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the left arm spinner Hamza Hotak.

Afghanistan Squad: Mohammad Nabi (Captain), Fazal Rahman, Fazalu Rahman, Mohammad Qaseem, Sayed Shirzad, Najeeb Tarakai, Abdullah Mazari, Gulbadin Naib, Mohammad Shahzad, Fareed Ahmad, Amir Hamza, Abdullah Adil, Mohammad Nasim Baras & Samiullah Shinwari.