Real Test awaits Nepal in Namibia

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The National cricket team of Nepal hopes to rebound but faces a daunting challenge going into the new season, following a bitterly dismal twelve months of competitive cricket.

It is obvious that unless they overcome mediocrity and turn things around pretty quickly, they are doomed to fail in 2018. Sorry for being such a pessimist. It is as simple as that.

The real test awaits Nepal in Namibia as they gear up for the all-important ICC World Cricket League B Division. This is one big opportunity to salvage some pride, especially after an unproductive 2017.

Much work remains to be done, and it is a tough road ahead without a doubt. The relegation to ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division Two was/is a crushing blow.

It is time to stop the slide and get back on the right track. As they say, desperate times call for desperate measures.

There is plenty at stake in the six-team competition. The battle is for the final two spots for a place in the ICC World Cup qualifiers 2018.

The two top finishers move on to Zimbabwe where they will vie for a spot in the 2019 ICC World Cup in England and Wales.

Unquestionably, Nepal has a steep climb. They face familiar opponents in the likes of Namibia, Kenya, Canada, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

They will have to compete at their very best and need scintillating all-round performance.This competition is very tight, and there is no room for complacency or slip-ups.

The fortunes of the team will depend a lot on how batsmen perform throughout the competition.They must get together as a batting unit to notch up competitive scores.

Skipper Paras Khadka once again spearheads an experienced squad packed with all-rounders, which includes one debutante, all-rounder Rohit Kumar Paudel. Also, batsman Anil Kumar Sah looking to find a spot in the playing eleven has been retained.

Khadka must lead from the front on and off the field and instil in his young mates a renewed confidence, vigour and a sense of purpose.

The youngsters have a chance to prove themselves yet again. They must step up and live up to the occasion.Batting specialists Dipendra Singh Airee, Aarif Sheikh and Sharad Vesawkar will have to shoulder the middle order batting responsibility and hope they deliver the goods.Wicketkeeper Dilip Nath must make useful contributions to consolidate the batting.

Likewise, captain Khadka and his deputy Gyanendra Malla cannot afford lackadaisical performance. No doubt, their form will be key to the team’s overall success.

The bowling department, a combination of spin and pace, headed by the highly experienced Shakti Gauchan looks solid and brimming.

With sensational Sandeep Lamichhane, Sompal Kami, Basant Regmi and Karan KC alongside Gauchan, there is less to worry about.

However, nothing can be taken for granted. What is very important is, giving one hundred percent effort and letting their performance speak for themselves.

Also, the fielding has to improve to boost the overall performance of the team. Above all, Nepal must get to a winning start against Namibia in the opener to build early momentum.

I would like to repeat here once again that batting is Nepal’s biggest concern and weakness right now. It continues to flop and more so at critical junctures to date. We have witnessed it.

Apparently, the team does not have a reliable and dependable batting to take on the best. By and large, it badly lacks in depth, stability and consistency despite talents.

The familiar sight has been: regular batting inconsistency and collapses in the recent past. Besides, there has been a lack of consistent major contributions from specialist batsmen, be it top-order or middle -order

It is increasingly looking more and more though players are not learning from mistakes and paying the price ultimately.This has to change now.

Having a positive attitude and having the ability to learn from past mistakes are must, as it helps enhance individual and team performance and get better results.

The coaching staff role is equally crucial and important when it comes to identifying and addressing the batting fragility that has cost the team a mind-boggling number of winnable ties in international competitions over the years.

Short-term measures like rectifying and altering batsmen approach, techniques and temperaments have not worked.

I am of the opinion that players need adequate international exposure, more opportunities to bat on lively and productive fast pitches and long-term batting camps.

With domestic cricket in shambles and Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) mired in unending controversies and scandals, cricket development and progress has been severely impeded for far too long.

Despite everything, cricket has survived to date, largely because of cricketers unprecedented passion for the sport, pursuit of greatness and burning desire to earn recognition and glory for the country internationally.

Whatever Nepal cricket has achieved, small and big, is solely because of cricketers’ sacrifice, dogged determination and sheer talent.

The recruitment of youngster Sandeep Lamichhane by Delhi Daredevils for the 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL) is a groundbreaking achievement in the annals of Nepal cricket.This has opened the floodgates to other talents in the country, and I bet they will be closely watched by scouts of IPL teams.

Lamichhane’s historical breakthrough is a testament to the wealth of talents we have. That said, admittedly, Nepal cricket is far worse off than imaginable.

What is so true is that the landscape of Nepal cricket must drastically change for good in terms of leadership, governance and management for the betterment and upliftment.

Else, cricket moving in the right direction is absolutely out if question. Furthermore, cricketers plight will continue unabated and talents like Lamichhane will go to waste.

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