Members of Nepal’s blind cricket team pose for a group photo during a farewell in Kathmandu on Tuesday.
KATHMANDU, Jan 3: Nepali team left for Pakistan on Tuesday to participate in the fifth edition of ODI World Cup of the blind. This will be Nepal’s first participation in the summit tournament.
The Nepali team, which has already gained experience of the T20 World Cup, will start their campaign by facing Bangladesh on January 8.
The World Cup, jointly-organized by Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), will see Nepal playing three of its matches in Pakistan and the remaining two in the UAE.
Nepal, who will face Bangladesh in Lahore, will also play against the defending champions India and the home team Pakistan in Faisalabad on January 9 and 10 respectively. Nepal will take on Australia on January 13 and the other home team UAE on January 15 in Ajman. Nepal will fly to the UAE on January 11.
State Minister for Youth and Sports Teju Lal Chaudhary bid farewell to the 22-member Nepali team including 14 players.
Nepali team’s skipper Kritan Shrestha Duwal said that despite a lack of opportunity to train well for the World Cup, they were determined to give their best at the game.
“We could not train properly due to lack of a training ground,” said Duwal, adding, “Only recently, we have been able to train at the Mulpani Cricket Ground.”
“We have three new players in the team and we have already beaten strong teams like South Africa and New Zealand in the T20 format. So, we have strong morale ahead of the tournament. Our main goal is to win the World Cup.”
Nepal will reach the last four of the tournament if they win the two group stage matches being held in round robin league format. The first match of the semifinals will be played on January 14 at the Ajman Oval Cricket Ground and the second semifinal will be played on January 18 at the MCC Ajman Cricket Ground. The final will be played at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
West Indies, South Africa, and England cancelled their participation at the last moment citing lack of security.
The head coach of the Nepali team, Rijan Praju, said that even though participating in the World Cup was a matter of pride for the team that is neglected by the government, the Nepali team will compete for the title.
South Africa won the first edition of the World Cup which was held in 1996. India won the 2002 and 2014 editions, while Pakistan won the 2006 edition.
Pawan Ghimire, president of the Cricket Association of the Blind, said that the Nepali team has been regularly participating in international tournaments. Stating that they will always play for the nation’s glory, he rued poor investment in the game. He urged the state to bring in more investment for the blind cricket.