HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Nepal will begin their gruelling journey to the 2015 World Cup with a match against Singapore in the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division-IV at the Bayuemas Oval in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Monday.
Six teams — Nepal, Malaysia, Denmark, Singapore, Tanzania and the United States of America — will fight it out for the two available berths to enter the Division-III, which will send top teams to the Cricket World Cup Qualifier in 2014.
Nepal go into the Singapore match as formidable opponents with Nepal winning both the previous encounters. Nepal had overcome Singapore by 16 runs in the ICC WCL Division-V — which Nepal went on to win — in February 2010 on home soil.
Just a month after that victory, Nepal thumped Singapore by seven wickets in the ACC Trophy Elite in Kuwait. Nepal, however, will be wary of the current Singapore side that is fresh from winning the ICC WCL Division-V title on their home soil in February.
With the top two teams gaining promotion to Division-III, Nepal would like to begin their campaign with a victory to raise their confidence level before facing other opponents.
Unlike the previous tournaments, coach Pubudu Dassanayake would be expecting much from his batsmen following their pre-tournament preparations and performance at the international stage.
While skipper Paras Khadka’s four-month stint with Ontario Cricket Academy and Club of Canada has boosted the Nepali squad, Sharad Vesawkar, Anil Mandal and Gyanendra Malla’s Bangalore stay for a special batting training programme would also play a crucial role in Nepal’s performance.
Gyanendra — who has been quiet with his bat for a long time — signalled his return by smashing a century in Nepal’s victory over Joseph Vas Club of Colombo in a practice match.
The coach will also bank upon the recent performance of Subash Khakurel who had impressed during the ICC U-19 World Cup held in Australia from August 11-26. Subash —the only batsman with much endurance on the Australian soil — was Nepal’s leading scorer with 155 runs.
The biggest concern for the coach would be the form of U-19 skipper Prithu Baskota and Pradeep Airee. Prithu had the most disappointing outing in Australia with his bat making just 48 runs from six innings. Pradeep ended the tournament on a high with 98 runs against Namibia in the 13th place playoff, but only after frustrating the camp with just 39 runs in first four matches.
Nepali spinners would once again be expected to deliver against Singapore with veteran spinner Shakti Gauchan’s return to the national fold, while seamers Chandra Saud and Amrit Bhattarai will be using all their experience from the Sri Lankan U-23 League. In another match on Monday, Malaysia will meet the USA.
NEPALI SQUAD: Paras Khadka (skipper), Pradeep Airee, Subash Khakurel, Gyanendra Malla (vice-captain), Anil Mandal, Prithu Baskota, Sharad Vesawkar, Basant Regmi, Sanjam Regmi, Shakti Gauchan, Binod Das, Amrit Bhattarai, Chandra Saud, Rahul Kumar BK.