The Business of World T20 Qualifier is done-six sides have been chosen and only the silverware yielding section of the tournament remains(which ironically holds a lot less value than the previous matches).Nepal team high on confidence after their world cup selection will take on heavyweights Afghanistan today in the semi final of the tournament.
Today’s fixture will welcome thousands of supporters-divided nearly equally between two teams-a very rare sight at associate level. Considered an Indo-Pak Equivalent of Associate Cricket such sights will give a huge boost to the budding rivalry between these emerging cricket nations.
Before today every single match against teams like Afghanistan and UAE was about proving Nepal belonged to same league as these teams. With World T20 Berth, it’s the first time in years Nepal is facing Afghanistan without having to prove anything! This match will be played for different reason-one that Nepalese fans wanted the players to play since the 2008 loss in Division 5 – Nepalese team will play this match for vengeance.
While Nepal have already achieved their primary aim, Afghanistan who came in the tournament vying for the Winner’s trophy are still two wins away; While there is nothing to lose for Nepal, Afghanistan dominant figure at associate level is at stake today.
Pubudu Dassanayeke before leaving for UAE had told media that Nepal wanted to dominate the tournament by defeating teams like Afghanistan. Nepal hasn’t at all been dominant, beating only those teams which it had already defeated in previous edition of the tournament. With pressure off from the players now is the ideal time for Nepal to establish itself as a dominant power in Associate World.
Likely Changes- Changes are unlikely. Wickets will be the key in today’s match. If Nepal want to go for the kill Rahul Viswakarma who hasn’t played a single match in the tournament could get a chance today replacing, Shakti Gauchan who hasn’t been amongst the wickets in the tournament(but has been the most economical bowler).
Afghanistan defeated Nepal in the group stage of this tournament by 9 wickets. In a match shortened to 7 overs by rain and played in a relatively small field, Nepali batsman struggled against Afghan seam attack and posted a chaseable 73/3. Shahzad blitz of 43 from 22 balls guided the Afghanistan to victory in 6.2 overs finishing the game in style with a six!
Thousands of Nepalese and Afghanistan fan watched in Sharjah giving the reminiscence of India Pak rivalry.
The senior side of Nepal and Afghanistan first met in 2004 where Nepal defeated Afghanistan by 47 runs. Since then the Afghan team has grown much stronger, making its way to 2015 Cricket World Cup, 2 T20 World Cups and the ODI status, Nepal on the other hand have just climbed World Cup Qualifiers.
The Afghan senior side since then hasn’t however changed much, Nawroz Mangal, Karim Saqiq, Mohammad Nabi, Shapoor Zadran played against Nepal in 2004 and still are in Afghan team.
Since 2004 Nepal has never defeated Afghanistan in any match. The reign for Afghanistan against Nepal started in 2007 ACC T20 Cup where they defeated Nepal by 6 wickets. The defeat in T20 was followed by 4 consecutive ODI defeats in Semi- Final of Division V in 2008, Third Place play off of ACC Elite Cup in 2008 again, Final of ACC Elite Cup in 2010 and narrow defeat of 3 runs in Emerging Teams Cup 2 months back.
These two teams have met four more times T20 matches after the first encounter in 2007 : First the in of ACC T20 Cup 2009 where Afghanistan comprehensively defeated Nepal by 9 wickets in the Semi- Final and then in the ICC World T20 Qualifier where Afghanistan defeated Nepal by 34 runs. A young Afghan side without most of its senior players disappointed Nepal in home in the final of ACC T20 Cup this year, the latest of these teams T20 date. The fixture in the group stage of the tournament was the fifth loss of Nepal to Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is a perfect blend of youth and experience with every player tried and tested at various tournaments. Allrounders like Nabi, Shenwari, Naib helps them suit themselves at shorter format of the game.
They haven’t had particular good tournament, but somehow they did manage to finish top of the table! They faced embarrassing defeat against Netherlands in their first match. They barely defeated PNG in the second match with little luck and help from D/L estimate. Afghanistan had hurdles all though out the tournament – even Denmark gave them a scare. Afghanistan did although lose Hamid Hassan to knee injury which accounts a bit for their poor show.
ICC T20 Qualifier 2012– Finished second losing the final to Ireland
ICC T20 Qualifier Qualification– Qualified as one of the top six teams of previous edition of the tournament. But were the winners of Regional Qualification defeating Nepal in the final of ACC T20 Cup
Mohammad Nabi (captain), Merwais Ashraf, , Amir Hamza Hotak, Afsar Khan, Nawroz Mangal, Gulbadin Naib, Mohammad Shahzad, Shafiqullah Shafaq, Karim Sadiq, Samiullah Shinwari, Najeebullah Zadran, Shapor Zadran, Dawlat Khan Zadran, Noor Ali Zadran, Izzatullah Dawlatzai
Afghanistan in ICC T20 Qualifier 2013
Form: L W W W W W W
Most Runs : Mohammad Shahzad 194 runs in 7 innings with 1 half century;
Most Wickets: Samiullah Shenwari with 13 wickets followed by Shapoor Zadran with 9 wickets
Best Bowling Performance: Samiullah Shenwari 5/20 against Kenya
Best Batting Performance: 61 of 34 balls by Najibullah Zadran against Denmark
Highest Total : 171/6 against Scotland
Most Sixes : 12 sixes by Mohammad Nabi
QF : Qualified to semis after finishing on top of Group B in the league stage(Defeated Kenya in the last match by 34 runs)
Paras Khadka (captain), Pradeep Airee, Binod Bhandari, Amrit Bhattarai, MaheshChhetri, Shakti Gauchan, Subash Khakurel, Avinash Karn, Gyanendra Malla, Anil Mandal, Jitendra Mukhiya, Sagar Pun, Basant Regmi, Sharad Vesawkar, Rahul Vishwakarma
Nepal in ICC T20 Qualifier 2013
Form: W W L W L L W W
Most Runs: Paras Khadka 217 runs in 8 innings with 1 half Century
Most Wickets: Paras Khada and Jitendra Mukhiya will 11 each
Best Bowling Performance: Basanta Regmi 3/12 against The Netherlands
Best Batting Performance: 54* Paras Khadka against Kenya
Highest Total: 186/4 in 19.4 overs against Kenya
Most Sixes: Paras Khada, 11 sixes
Quarter Final : Defeated Hong Kong by 5 wickets
Players to Watch Out
Paras Khadka has two back to back fifties against Afghanistan first in ACC T20 Cup and then Emerging Nations Cup. Khadka is both highest run scorer and leading wicket taker for Nepal in the tournament. Khadka alone nearly makes half of the team.
Avinash Karn debuting for Nepal in T20 against Afghanistan earlier in the tournament has been the most impressive bowler in last 3 matches. With ability to move the ball both ways and consistently hitting the right line he will certainly cause some problems to seasoned Afghan players.
Mohammad Shahzad is one of the highest run getter in T20I, opening the batting he scores at brisk rate and take the game away from the opponent very quickly. He is the leading runs scorer for Afghanistan this tournament with 42,18,60, 10, 43*, 0 in last 5 matches at strike rate of over 150
Mohammad Nabi is a match winner for Afghanistan side with both bat and ball. He has 5 wickets to his name in this tournament and 160 runs coming at strike rate of over 160. Nabi is also the highest wicket taker for Afghanistan in T20 Cricket with 42 wickets.