Members of the national cricket team pose for a group photo with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal at Baluwatar before their departure to the Netherlands last week.(Republica)
KATHMANDU, Aug 13: Visiting side Nepal will take on the Netherlands in first of its two fifty-over fourth round matches of the ICC World Cricket League Championship at Amstelveen, Amsterdam, on Saturday. The second match will be played on Monday.
The match will be crucial for sixth placed Nepal to achieve its goal of a top-four finish which will serve as a gateway for the 2019 World Cup Qualifiers. Thus, Nepal cannot afford to drop points against the Netherlands, which leads the table.
Host Netherlands, the only undefeated team in the eight-team contest, has an opportunity to further strengthen its dominance at the top of the table with victory.
The Netherlands made a solid start to its campaign registering comfortable wins over Papua New Guinea and the UAE in both matches of the first and third rounds. The second round match against Scotland scheduled for September last year was washed out forcing them to share points.
Meanwhile, Nepal's shaky start to the campaign got back on track only after third round matches against Namibia at home. Following defeats in both matches against Scotland and Papua New Guinea last year, Nepal achieved its first victory of the tournament against Namibia in April.
Since playing their last matches of the World Cricket League, neither Nepal nor the Netherland have played competitive list A matches. However, Nepal visited England for warm-up matches and won all five matches played abroad.
Looking at the past records, the two sides have met twice in the 50-over format and both have won a match each. The first match was played during the 2014 World Cup Qualifiers which saw the Netherlands beat Nepal by seven wickets. In another match played in January 2015 during the World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia, Nepal pulled a two-wicket win over the same opponent.
In June and July the same year, the two sides played four T20I matches in the Netherlands during which Nepal lost three and won one match.
Nepal's coach Jagat Tamata is hopeful that his side could beat the opponent at their home ground. “We have already defeated them in T20 so we are capable of beating them with bowling superiority,” said Tamata, who was equally cautious about the pitch condition of the Netherlands. “The challenge that lies ahead is not only the Netherlands, but also the conditions there. Besides this, the opponent is a strong team and they have the advantage of playing at home turf,” he said.
Skipper Paras Khadka said that it was time for his team to deliver. “We had really good preparations and now it is time to show our might. The upcoming matches are decisive for us,” he said referring to his team's ambition of top-four finish.
Anil Mandal and Gyanendra Malla are likely opening pairs for Nepal after regular Subash Khakurel was axed following his poor form in England tour. U-19 players Bikram Sob and Sunil Dhamala have also made it to the final list of players.
Match likely to be hit by rain
The match between Nepal and the Netherlands scheduled to kick off at 11:00 am (Amsterdam local time) has become uncertain due to rainfall, according to the weather forecast of Amsterdam.
The match will kick off at 14:45 NST.
According to weather forecast for Amsterdam, there is 47, 51 and 47 percent chances of rainfall at 11:00 am, 12:00 pm and 13:00 pm (local time) respectively.
Meanwhile, a warm-up match between Nepal and the Netherlands A played on Thursday was finally called off in the middle owing to downpour.
The match was halted for six time before it was washed out. In the rain-hit match, Nepal was bowled out for 88 runs in 31.4 overs. In the run chase, the Netherlands A had scored 11/1 at the completion of five overs before the match was called off.
Peter Borren(c),Wesley Barresi (wk), Mudassar Bukhari, Ben Cooper, Tim Gruijters, Timm van der Gugten, Vivian Kingma, Ahsan Malik, Paul van Meekeren, Roelof van der Merwe, Stephan Myburgh, Michael Rippon, Pieter Seelaar, Shane Snater, Sikander Zulfiqar, Max O'Dowd.