National, Nepal U19

Prithu confident of good show against Australia

Nepal captain Prithu Baskota is daring to dream ahead of Monday’s ICC U19 Cricket World Cup clash against Australia.

The ICC Associate nation begins its campaign with a fixture against the host nation at Tony Ireland Stadium in Townsville.

And although it will enter the match as rank outsiders, Baskota believes his side can produce a stunning upset.

“We are very excited,” Baskota told reporters after Sunday’s training session.

“We know that Australia are strong contenders for this tournament but the mood is good in the team. Everyone is feeling like we can beat Australia. We are looking forward to it.”

The batsman takes confidence from the performance of Nepal in previous ICC U19 Cricket World Cups.

Nepal beat South Africa in the group stages of the 2004 tournament in Bangladesh, while thrilling wins against the Proteas (two runs) and New Zealand (one run) saw it finish third in the 2006 edition.

“We have done it in the past. We have beaten South Africa and New Zealand at under-19 level,” he said.

“Beating Australia in Australia would be a huge achievement for us. It would be a cricketing boost in the country as well.”

Young men can be fearless and this Nepal side seem to be just that.

Nepal has been a notable presence at the tournament so far, either training or watching other matches as a group.

Nepal squad is clearly loving being in Australia and is desperate to finish third – at the worst – in Group A, just so they can spend an extra day in the country.

“The boys are feeling great,” coach Pubudu Dassanayake said.

“They are excited to be on the TV as well. It’s the first time for most of them.”

Dassanayake – a wicketkeeper who played 11 Tests and 16 one-day internationals for Sri Lanka in his playing career – echoed Baskota’s thoughts about the chances of causing a huge upset.

“Australia is the defending champion and will be playing at home so they have all the advantage,” he said.

“They are a good side but I believe that there is nothing we cannot handle.”

Dassanayake nominated Naresh Budayair and Subash Khakurel – who scored 247 runs between them in Nepal’s two warm-up matches against New Zealand and Papua New Guinea – as potential danger men at the top of the innings.

Australia will be confident of securing the points after a six-wicket win against England on Saturday, but this Nepal side are clearly not afraid of their more-fancied opponents, which could pave the way for an exciting encounter.

Other matches on Monday see 2010 finalists Pakistan battle Scotland on the Sunshine Coast, while South Africa tackle Namibia in Brisbane and West Indies take on Papua New Guinea in Townsville.