Published On: September 11, 2017 02:30 AM NPT By: Kamal Khatri
MALAYSIA, September 11: Nepal is beginning its ACC U-19 Eastern Region Cricket Tournament campaign taking on Thailand at the Club Aman cricket ground in Malaysia on Monday.
The tournament that kicked off on Sunday features a total of eight nations which are divided into two groups. Nepal and Thailand alongside Bhutan and Singapore are pitted in Group A while Group B consists of host Malaysia, Hong Kong, Myanmar and China.
Since this tournament also serves as a qualifier for the ACC U-19 Asia Cup, Nepal landed in Malaysia with the target of becoming the champion.
However, head coach Binod Das is not in a mood to take the opponents lightly. Despite being one of the contenders to win the title, Nepal will have to play up to its potential in order to win the trophy, says Das.
“Malaysia and Singapore are strong opponents among all but we cannot take other nations lightly. We will have to take all the matches seriously and try to play top cricket,” said Das.
This time, Nepal will have to improve its batting as poor batting during the ICC U-19 World Cup Division-1 Asia Qualifiers in July saw Nepal miss out on the chance to qualify for the youth world cup to be held in New Zealand next year.
Batsmen failing to stroke enough runs saw Nepal finishing behind Afghanistan in the qualifiers held in Singapore which dented Nepal's hope of securing its berth in the world cup.
However, Das says his team has talented batsmen but they just need confidence to play up to their level. Das further informed that working alongside batting consultant Monti Desai in the training camp back in Nepal has helped his batsmen to regain their confidence.
“It's not like we have poor quality in batting department but the players lacked confidence in the previous tournament. But we have worked a lot in order to help them regaining the confidence, So, hopefully, they will deliver this time,” added Das. “So the match on Monday is going to be a great opportunity for us to show our improvement,” said Das.
Meanwhile, newly appointed captain of the side Dipendra Singh Airee says this tournament is going to be a great exposure for the young players. “We all want to play for the national team and this tournament is going to be a great platform for us to prove our worth. Players doing well in this tournament will surely get a call up for the national team,” said skipper Airee, who is also included in the preliminary squad of the national team that is scheduled to play against Hong Kong next month.
Sandeep Lamichchane, who also has secured his place in the national squad, was the captain of the U-19 team that took part in the ICC U-19 World Cup Division-1 Asia Qualifiers.
Meanwhile, head coach Das said that he will play his first choice players against Thailand adding that he can't afford to field experimental side. “This match is going to be very important as a win will be a decent start to the competition which will boost the confidence of the players for the upcoming matches,” added Das.
In the opening day matches in Group B, home team Malaysia and Hong Kong registered identical wins of nine wickets over Myanmar and China respectively.
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