In Focus, Nepal Men

Should Nepal try batting first?

Gyanendra Malla

The five-match T20I series is well balanced between the hosts Kenya and Nepal after Kenya’s brilliant 18 runs victory in the second match. Nepal took the lead after the hard-fought win in the first-ever T20I meetup with Kenya.

Nepalese skipper Sandeep Lamichhane opted to bowl first in both matches after winning the toss. Kenya set an average target of 130s on both occasions, which Nepal narrowly chased in the first match and fell 18 runs short in the second clash. Nepalese fans were furious after Lamichhane decided to field first in two consecutive matches.

If we look at the records at Gymkhana Club Ground, The pitch has largely favoured the teams batting second as four out of five matches are won by the team bowling first (before this series). The average first-inning score is 130 and Kenya were able to post exactly 130 and 132 respectively in the two matches after being invited to bat first.

Nepal were seen struggling while chasing as the pitch seemed to be slowing down more in the second inning, the ball was also bouncing low comparatively. So, is it time for Nepal to do differently?

In the second T20I, Nepal had 8 bowling options, and only Aasif Sheikh (wk), Gyanendra Malla, and Rohit Paudel seemed to be specific batters. There is a flaw in an opening slot and too many spin options available hence, Pawan Sarraf can be replaced by either Dev Khanal or Arjun Saud, and then you can open with Aasif-Dev or Aasif-Gyanendra. It will add more strength to the batting department and won’t cause problems in the bowling sector.

Nepal batted first in four matches in the previous home tri-series against Malaysia and PNG in April and registered a win all four times posting a decent total (183, 203, 223, 168) on all occasions. It recapitulates Nepal seems to be more comfortable batting first as compared to chasing. Although there’s a huge difference in home and away conditions, at least Nepal should take a chance.

All-rounder Basir Ahmad was Nepal’s no.11 in the second T20I, which outlines Nepal has got enough batting options, but they are failing in the given condition. As the pitch is slow and gets worst moving forward, Nepal really should take time and be optimistic about the batting department.