HEMANTA RAJ KAFLE
TOWNSVILLE: Nepali batsmen will look to give the best answer to fiery pace from Australian bowlers when they play their first match of the ICC U-19 World Cup against the three-time champions here at the Tony Ireland Stadium on Monday.
Nepal ’s coach Pubudu Dassanayake spent much of the time with his top order batsmen — particularly Pradeep Airee — in today’s five-hour training session. Dassanayake believed that opener Pradeep — who was not in his best form in two warm up matches —will come good against the Aussies.
“He is the kind of batsman who can do big things in any delivery he gets to play. So, I gave special attention to him today,” the coach said. Not only in the U-19 squad, Dassanayake has been keeping faith in Pradeep in the senior team as well but he has not delivered so far in the Australian tour.
Pradeep managed just 25 runs against Papua New Guinea and scored just one against New Zealand in the warm up matches, while he had completely flopped in three practice matches in Darwin. Dassanayake is expecting his top order to at least put early resistance against a team that is buoyed by a crushing eight-wicket victory against England. “If the top order plays their first 10 overs with patience, then we can put some runs on the board,” said the coach.
“It would be an interesting battle if our batsmen manage to play Australia’s pace bowling,” he said adding: “We will opt to field if we win the toss so that we can take advantage of our spin attack.”
Pradeep and Subash Khakurel will be the unanimous selection of openers for Dassanayake. Subash has been the most impressive among the Nepali batsmen after he made 68 against PNG and 59 against New Zealand.
Expectations will be high in the camp from No 3 Naresh Budhayer following his century (114) against New Zealand and Hashim Ansari. Naresh had also made 93 not out against Northern Territory Strike Team in Darwin, while Hashim was the top scorer with 81 runs in Nepal’s eight-wicket loss against PNG.
Dassanayake said the team was eager to produce some miraculous results. “Cricket is a ten-ball game and no one can underestimate us. The teams in past have done big things and we are targeting some upset victories this time as well.”
Skipper Prithu Baskota said the team would play only for victory. “Australia no doubt is the best team in the world. But we have our plans and will play according to our potential,” he said.
Probable team: Pradeep Airee, Subash Khakurel, Naresh Budhayer, Prithu Baskota (capt), Rajesh Pulami, Sagar Pun, Hashim Ansari, Rahul BK, Bhuwan Karki, Avinash Karn, Krishna Karki.