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Nepal face Malaysia in a must-win clash


Udipt Singh Chhetry / THT

Waqas Barkat of Hong Kong acknowledges crowd after scoring a century against Maldives during their ACC Twenty20 Cup match at the TU Stadium in Kathmandu on Friday.


KATHMANDU: With a promise of bouncing back‚ Nepal are taking on Malaysia in their second match of the ACC Twenty20 Cup on Saturday at the TU Stadium where coach Pubudu Dassanayake is expected to ring some changes against a side managed by the hosts’ former mentor Roy Luke Dias.

After Hong Kong made an easy passage into the semi-finals crushing Maldives by 153 runs in a Group ‘A’ match in Kirtipur today‚ the pressure will now be on the hosts to claim stake in the knock out stage.

Hong Kong lead the table with maximum six points from three matches and Nepal are second on better net run rate after being tied on two points with Malaysia and Maldives. Malaysia‚ also playing their third match‚ will be testing opponents‚ especially after they successfully chased down a huge target of 172 runs against Singapore on Wednesday.

Nepal and Malaysia have won one match each in their previous two encounters in the ACC Twenty20. Nepal had defeated Malaysia by 21 runs in the 2007 edition before losing to them in the 2009 event.

Nepal were given a reality check following their six-wicket loss against Hong Kong on Monday but coach Dassanayake wants to forget the defeat and move ahead. “We are not worried at all. We just had one bad day‚” said Dassanayake on the eve of the match adding his side was confident of winning the match ‘very comfortably.’

“I am confident that we will come hard against Malaysia tomorrow (Saturday). We were not even close to our average against Hong Kong but against Malaysia we will be a much better team. We will win very comfortably‚” added the coach. Dassanayake hinted at making some changes in the side but would not open his cards before the match. “We have some plans against Malaysia but since we are playing second match of the day‚ we could wait to see the pitch‚” said the coach.

Dassanayake is expected to bring in Prithu Baskota in place of either all rounder Manjeet Shrestha or right arm spinner Sanjam Regmi and include seamer Chandra Saud in place of Amrit Bhattarai. Left arm medium pacer Amrit has been wicketless in the previous two matches conceding 43 runs in five overs.

Skipper Paras Khadka was aware that there was no room for negotiation with less than a victory. “There is no doubt we have to win as we are left with no other alternatives. We have trained hard and won’t let that hard work wash out‚” said Paras.

Nepal failed to accelerate their innings against Hong Kong with the hosts scoring below-par 115-9 after the batsmen lost their wickets in a hurry. Paras said the batsmen have to stay for long at the pitch. “I think we lacked a little bit of patience that was needed against Hong Kong. The stroke makers have to spend some time in the middle but at the same time they should not consume a lot of dot balls‚” Paras said.

Only No 3 batsman Gyanendra Malla had shown some resilience against Hong Kong making a 39-ball 38 and the vice-captain knew what would be the team’s focus on Wednesday. “We need to make sure that we don’t lose wickets at crucial stages. Our focus will be to give a good start and capitalise on it‚” said Gyanendra.

The match will also be Nepal’s fourth duel against a team under their former coach Dias. Nepal had lost to Dias-managed Oman during the 2011 edition of this tournament and after the Sri Lankan took the hot-seat of Malaysia‚ Nepal have prevailed in two 50-over matches. Nepal had crushed Malaysia by 10 wickets in the 2012 ICC World Cricket League Division-III at their home and defeated them by 21 runs in the ACC Trophy Elite semi-finals later that year in the UAE.

Dias termed Saturday’s match as ‘quarter-final’. “It is a crucial game. Since‚ both teams have relatively easier opponents in their final league-stage matches‚ the winner will virtually earn a semi-final berth‚” said Dias adding a huge backing from the supporters would be an advantage for Nepal.

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