Nepal national cricket team attends a training session at the Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, England on Saturday, on the eve of their tri-series matches against Marylebone Cricket Club and the Netherlands scheduled for Sunday. Photo Courtesy: Raman Shiwakoti
KATHMANDU, July 29: The much awaited T20 tri-series of Nepal national cricket team is scheduled to take place today. All three matches will be played at the historic Lord’s Cricket Ground, London.
Nepal had made its debut at the Lord’s in 2016. It had then defeated the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) by 41 runs in a 50-over match that was organized to mark the 200-year relationship between Britain and Nepal.
With all the three matches set to be played on the same day, the series will open with MCC taking on the Netherlands and followed by MCC against Nepal, whereas the Netherlands’ clash with Nepal will end the eventful cricket day at the ‘Home of Cricket’.
The last match between Nepal and the Netherlands has been granted T20 international (T20I) status by virtue of both the teams having T20I status granted by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
A large number of Nepali fans are expected to watch the match at the Lord’s Cricket Ground with good response to ticket sales and Nepali communities from the United Kingdom and around Europe supporting the event.
Nepal will travel to the Netherlands to participate in its first ever bilateral ODI series after the completion of the triangular tournament on Sunday.
Led by mercurial captain Paras Khadka, the Nepal national team will mark its return to international cricket after gaining the much-coveted ODI status earlier this year. The only change in the squad is the return of international centurion Subash Khakurel in place of wicket-keeper Dilip Nath from the squad that featured in the ICC World Cricket League Division Two in Namibia and the ICC World Cup Qualifiers in Zimbabwe.
However, Anil Kumar Sah is more likely to keep wickets ahead of Khakurel due to his sound form leading to the triangular event. The 19-year-old scored a fifty and a century in the practice matches against St Cross Cricket Club and East London XI, respectively.
Skipper Khadka hinted of his robust form scoring a brisk century and a quick-fire half-century in practice matches leading up to the triangular event. Vice-captain Gyanendra Malla tried to shake off his poor form with bat in the last practice match against East London Sharks, smashing a well timed fifty.
Similarly, Sharad Vesawkar, who missed the closed camp, proved his fitness and form scoring a fluent 98 against the East London XI.
The middle batting order of young trio of Dipendra Singh Airee, Aarif Sheikh and Rohit Kumar Poudel will mark its first outing in the English land. Poudel is in verge of being the youngest cricket player to play in a T20I at the age of 15.
Nepal’s veteran left-arm spinner Shakti Gauchan announced his retirement from international cricket. He will be making his last appearance for Nepal in an overseas tour. He will not only have to compete with the high-flying Sandeep Lamichhane and ever consistent Basant Regmi, but also with newcomer Lalit Rajbanshi who has made good impressions every time he has taken the field for Nepal.
The pace bowling will be spearheaded by Sompal Kami along with the variety of Karan KC’s right-arm and Lalit Bhandari’s left-arm pace.
Arguably the biggest draw of the day, the legendary former Sri Lanka Captain Mahela Jayawardene is set to lead the star-studded MCC side. The 652-time capped former Sri Lankan international, Jayawardene became an Honorary Life Member of the MCC in 2015. The 41-year-old has 54 international centuries including one in T20I.
The trio of current Scottish players -- middle order batsman Dylan Budge, pace bowler Alasdair Evans and left-arm spinner Mark Watt -- will look to make it to the XI after appearing in historic ODI win against England at Edinburgh on June 10.
Essex opener Varun Chopra will replace the former England international Ian Bell in the squad in a last minute adjustment. Another English international James Foster will compete with current Zimbabwean international Peter Moor for the wicket-keeping duties.
Similarly, the third former English international in the squad, Jonathan Trott, who is set to be included in scouting network for the English Cricket Board at the end of the current season, will bring solidity to MCC middle order.
Matt Coles, also the third Essex representative in the squad after Chopra and Foster, will lead the bowling line. He recently dismissed Shikhar Dhawan for a golden duck in the tour match against India.
SQUAD: Mahela Jayawardene (c), Kashif Ali, Dylan Budge, Varun Chopra, Matt Coles, Dan Douthwaite, Alasdair Evans, James Foster (w/k), Peter (PJ) Moor (w/k), Tom Smith, Jonathan Trott, Mark Watt
The left-arm wrist spinning all-rounder Michael Rippon was the big returnee to the Netherlands squad for the T20 triangular in the Lord’s. The onus will be on Rippon to lead the spin bowling duties in the absence of Reolof van der Merwe, who is committed to Somerset County Cricket Club. Rippon missed the World Cup Qualifier campaign for the Netherlands while representing Otago in the Plunket Shield, New Zealand’s domestic first-class competition.
Similarly, the three new faces in the squad -- Hidde Overdijk, Clayton Floyd and Tonny Staal -- were included in the squad. Floyd hails from South Africa holds Dutch passport. Pieter Seelaar will lead the team. Wesley Barresi will keep wickets whereas aggressive opening batsman Stephan Myburgh will look to unsettle the opponent’s opening bowlers.
The European team’s biggest strength lies on quick-bowling partnership of Shane Snater and Paul van Meekeren in the absence of Timm van der Gugten. Associate cricket’s one of the most productive all-rounder, Ryan ten Doeschate, was late addition to the Netherlands squad after he was released from Essex to take part in the event.
SQUAD: Pieter Seelaar (c), Wesley Barresi, Dan ter Braak, Ben Cooper, Scott Edwards, Frederick Klaassen, Bas De Leede, Paul van Meekeren, Stephan Myburgh, Max O’Dowd, Hidde Overdijk, Shane Snater, Michael Rippon.
Who said what?
“Very excited, obviously. It is the home of cricket. We played here couple of years ago. It was a great fun. As a cricketer, could not ask for more. Every game at the Lord’s is special.” -Paras Khadka, captain, Nepal cricket team
“It will be a special moment for me. Every game we play for Nepal means a lot for us. It is an immense moment and pride for us to play at the Lord’s.” -Sandeep Lamichhane, leg-spinner, Nepal cricket team
“We have always respected the Nepal team. In fact, it was them that inflicted one of only two losses we had in the WCL so we know what they are capable of.” –Ryan Campbell, head coach, the Netherlands
3:00 PM- MCC v Netherlands
6:05 PM- MCC v Nepal
9:20 PM- Netherlands v Nepal