March 30, 2017 12:00 AM NPT
Members of Nepal's national cricket tea, attend a practice session at TU cricket ground in Kirtipur in this recent photo.
KATHMANDU, March 30: Cricket teams of Nepal and Hong Kong will vie on Thursday during their last match of the ACC Emerging Teams Cup at the Sheikh Kamal International Cricket Stadium in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.
The dead rubber match will be a matter of prestige for both the fellow associate nations, since both of them have already crashed out from the group stage. Both Nepal and Hong Kong have lost their matches to U-23 teams of Test-playing sides -- host Bangladesh and Pakistan in the four-team group and they are yet to open account in the points table. Despite remaining pointless, Nepal is ahead of Hong Kong in the standings on the basis of net run rate.
However, the match will serve as a warm-up match for Nepal, which are set to vie in the crucial fixtures of the ICC World Cricket League Championship (WCLC) in October. The tournament - WCLC is a gateway for direct entry into the qualifiers of 2019 Cricket World Cup. Nepal with eight points stands sixth and Hong Kong with 11 points is third in the eight-team contest after playing equal 10 matches. The top four finishers at the end of the double round robin league will get direct entry into World Cup Qualifiers.
Meanwhile, both Nepal and Hong Kong have rested some of their key players for the tournament in Bangladesh. Nepal has excluded four senior players of the squad including regular captain Paras Khadka, veterans Basant Regmi and Shakti Gauchan and emerging player Sompal Kami.
Paras has been recuperating after undergoing appendicitis surgery while three other players were given rest with a view to give exposure to emerging players. Vice captain Gyanendra Malla has shouldered the responsibility of captain in the absence of Paras.
Similarly, Hong Kong has also rested some of its key players for the Bangladesh tour including left-arm spinner Nadeem Ahmed.
Both Nepal and Hong Kong will have to overcome poor batting performance when they face off on Thursday. Both the associate sides have failed in batting department against their Test-playing opponents in the previous two matches. Hong Kong was bowled out for 125 runs in its eight-wicket defeat against Bangladesh. Similarly, Nepal was bowled out for 174 runs in its 83-run defeat to the same opponent.
In the match against Pakistan, Hong Kong managed 79 runs as it was beaten by 248 runs. Similarly, Nepal produced 180 runs before facing six-wicket defeat to the same opponent.
Looking at the past records between the two sides in the 50-over format, Nepal has won five and Hong Kong four matches. In their last two encounters, Nepal won one match and lost one against Hong Kong. Nepal overcame Hong Kong by seven wickets on D\ method in their last match played during the ACC Premier League in Kuala Lumpur in May 2014. Before that, the two sides had faced each other during the ICC World Cup Qualifiers in New Zealand in January the same year. On that occasion, Hong Kong had registered a 10-wicket win over Nepal.