‘We are very excited to be here’- Paras Khadka

Kathmandu – Nepal will open their World Cup Qualifiers journey against the host Zimbabwe on Sunday, March 4 at Queens Sports Club.

After all the highs and lows in ICC World Cricket League Championship 2015-2017 and nail-biting finishes in ICC World Cricket League Division two in Namibia, the stage is set for Nepal to showcase their talent once again in the cricketing world.

Despite all the issues of Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN), their cricketing governing body with International Cricket Council (ICC) since 2015, the senior men’s team has time and again proved where they belong.

In the past two years, the world has seen the rise of Sandeep Lamichhane, a 17-year old young leg-spinner, breath-taking batting of Karan KC against Canada in the division two, batting depth and the continuous performance of Captain cool Paras Khadka in both batting and bowling department are the very few examples of what this team has achieved so far.

Nepal is strong in bowling, no one will argue on that. Their major concern and the only issue remains the same old story – their batting. The failure of openers, the middle order collapse, playing lots of dot balls, unable to rotate the strike, all depending on Captain’s knock and lastly the hopes on tailenders to win the matches with nail-biting finishes.

However, the team management is all positive and aware of all these issues and continuing their efforts. In fact, they have tried few things from hiring good batting coaches, giving opportunities to young guns like Dilip Nath, Aarif Sheikh, Dipendra Singh Airee, Anil Sah, Rohit Paudel etc. but the results are still in counting.

Whatever has happened, that was learning curve. But now they are in the big stage. They have an opportunity to win this tournament and get selected for 2019 World Cup and not to forget they can earn One-Day International Status as well.

Nepal is starting their ICC World Cup Qualifiers campaign against the host Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe team is struggling due to a political and financial crisis but in cricket, they are much better than Nepal and above associates.

Zimbabwe will aim to entertain the home ground and make a winning start to the tournament when they take on Nepal at the Queens Sports Club.

Nepal captain Paras Khadka said his side is looking forward to making an impression against the higher-ranked nations. “We are very excited to be here. Division two was a very tight tournament for all the teams, but we somehow managed to come through. So, so are now looking forward to this tournament.

“Pressure is probably on the bigger teams, but for us, we have the belief that we can go all the way through and for that we will have to take one game at a time.”, he further added.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe coach Heath Streak has said that Playing in our home conditions and having home support is special for us. I’ve played here in the 2003 World Cup, and it’s really uplifting. So, to play in front of our home supporters is really going to be enjoyable.

“I think the wickets here are really good and flat and suit our bowling attack a bit better, especially with the overhead conditions. We have really good swing bowlers in our attack, and our batters are used to batting here at the Queens and the BAC, which are really good batting strips.

“We are in a tough group and cannot take any team lightly, but we are looking forward to the challenge ahead.

“It will be massive (to qualify for the World Cup 2019) especially given that there will be 10 teams. We have enjoyed playing in the past World Cups, it is something that most players aspire to achieve in their careers. It will be massive not just for the players but for the country to go to England and Wales next year and play in a World Cup.”

Zimbabwe is ranked No.11 in the ICC Men’s ODI Team Rankings, will start as favourites, but Nepal’s recent performances have shown they can raise their game on the big occasions.