March 27, 2017 12:00 AM NPT
Republica Members of Nepali national cricket team pose for a photo during a farewell function in Kathmandu on Saturday.
KATHMANDU, March 27: Nepali national cricket team will open its campaign of the ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup against the U-23 team of mighty Pakistan on Monday at the Sheikh Kamal Cricket Stadium in Coxs Bazar, Bangladesh.
Team Nepal has a mixture of young and experienced players and it has rested four veterans of the team including regular skipper Paras Khadka, Shakti Gauchan, Basant Regmi and Sompal Kami.
The tournament features eight Asian teams including four U-23 teams of Test-playing nations and four associate teams. Nepal is pitted in Group B along with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Hong Kong.
However, the Test-playing side will be eligible to field three senior players in the squad. Group A consists of Afghanistan, India, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. Top two teams from either group will make it to the knockout stage.
Md Asif Sheikh, Dilip Nath and Dipesh Shrestha are the new faces to make it into the squad while Bhuwan Karki, Sushan Bhari and Avinash Karn are the other young players to make comeback into the national team.
Similarly, Sunil Dhamala and Dipendra Singh Airee are other new faces who made it to the national team for the first time against Kenya during the matches of the ICC World Cricket League Championship on March 11 and 13.
Regular skipper Paras has been recuperating after his appendicitis surgery while Shakti, Basant and Sompal were given rest.
Stating the reason for inclusion of new faces, national team head coach Jagat Tamata said, “The tournament is a good opportunity for exposure to young faces and they are the future of Nepali cricket. The senior players won't be in the squad in every tournament Nepal plays.”
Pakistan will be a tough nut to crack for Nepal. However, coach Jagat Tamata is optimistic of a 'surprising' outcome. “We were in the training camp for World Cricket League matches against Kenya for a long time and the players are in good form. But all the teams of the group including Test sides Pakistan and Bangladesh and fellow associate Hong Kong are strong teams,” Tamata said.
“However, they are not unbeatable. Whoever plays better on the particular day wins. Thus we are planning to play better cricket and make it to the knockout stage,” the head coach further added.
Tamata is likely to give continuity to his opening pair of skipper Gyanendra Malla and Sunil Dhamala. He is planning to choose bowlers after judging the pitch condition. “If it is a slow wicket, we could field three spinners. Otherwise we will add an all-rounder,” he said.
Earlier, Nepal had crashed out from the group stage of 2013 edition of the tournament in Singapore losing all three fixtures. Nepal had faced nine-wicket defeat to Pakistan, 84-run defeat against India and three-run defeat to Afghanistan on D/L method after the match was interrupted by rainfall.
Nepal will take host Bangladesh on Tuesday and Hong Kong on Thursday.