Nepal vs Sri Lanka: Nepal aims to keep Super 8 hopes alive

Published On: June 11, 2024 07:50 PM NPT By: Anil Malla Thakuri

KATHMANDU, June 11: Nepal, under pressure in the ICC T20 World Cup, will have to overcome former champions Sri Lanka in the T20 World Cup on Wednesday to keep their Super 8 chances alive.

Sri Lanka, currently in poor form, will not be an easy opponent for Nepal in Florida, USA. This will be Nepal’s second match in Group D while it will be Sri Lanka’s third match.

The match, to be held at the Central Broward Cricket Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will start at 7:30 PM local time (5:15 AM Nepali time). Sri Lanka, captained by Wanindu Hasaranga, must win to secure their place in the Super Eight. This will be the first-ever meeting between Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Both teams are seeking their first win after a poor start in the World Cup. Even if Sri Lanka win their remaining three matches, it may not be enough to advance to the next stage. They will also need to rely on the outcomes of other teams’ matches and aim for a significant margin of victory to improve their net run rate, adding to their pressure.

As of Tuesday, 10 matches have been completed at three different grounds in the USA. Except for the match between the USA and Canada, the pitch conditions have been challenging, with even targets below 120 runs proving difficult to chase. This has led to criticism of the pitch quality.

At a pre-match press conference, Sri Lanka’s bowling coach Aqib Javed criticized the pitch, stating, "The pitch here is unpredictable. We faced this bad pitch first, and now all teams know about it. Even chasing a small total doesn’t guarantee a win. The pitch does not behave normally."

Nepal are playing in their second World Cup after a 10-year gap. Despite Sri Lanka's legacy, the 2014 World T20 champions risk exiting at the group stage. Among the five teams in Group D, South Africa are leading with three wins, while Bangladesh and the Netherlands each have one win each from two matches. Sri Lanka and Nepal are yet to register victory.

Nepal's captain, Rohit Kumar Paudel, is optimistic about making history by defeating Sri Lanka. "All 20 teams are equally strong and balanced. Some unexpected results have motivated us. We also want to make history against Sri Lanka, as we have been preparing for the last six and a half months. I have full faith in my team," said Paudel.

Unexpected results in this World Cup, such as Pakistan losing to the USA and Sri Lanka losing to Bangladesh, have inspired Nepal to aim for a big win. However, Sri Lanka remains a stronger team despite their recent poor performance. Nepal’s morale has been boosted by the return of key bowler Sandeep Lamichhane.

"Sandeep’s ability is well-known. His bowling on the West Indies pitch is special, and it will benefit us. The team’s morale has increased," said Paudel.

Sri Lanka’s recent struggles in both bowling and batting continue. They were defeated by the Netherlands in a pre-World Cup practice match, further boosting the confidence of smaller teams. Sri Lanka lost their first two World Cup matches to South Africa and Bangladesh, with their lowest-ever Twenty20 score of 77 runs against South Africa.

Nepal face their own challenges, particularly in fast bowling and opening partnerships. Openers Kushal Bhurtel and Aasif Sheikh need to improve, as their poor starts have added pressure on Nepal’s batting lineup. Sri Lankan fast bowler Matheesha Pathirana, all-rounder and spinner Wanindu Hasaranga pose significant threats to Nepal's batting.

Experienced player Dipendra Singh Airee and young all-rounder Kushal Malla must also improve their performances. Only then can Nepal defeat Sri Lanka from the group stage of this World Cup.

Despite the challenges, Nepal’s captain Rohit Kumar remains hopeful. "Although Sri Lanka's spin and fast bowling will be a challenge, we will play well," he said. Sri Lanka’s bowling coach Javed also noted that the pitch conditions in the USA make any result possible. "No experiment can be done in this condition. Every team has to fight on the American pitch," Javed said.

Rain and thunderstorms have been forecast for Lauderhill at 7:30 PM on Wednesday, which could affect both teams. If the match is affected by weather, it may result in a shared outcome, which could be acceptable for both Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Despite losing their first match to the Netherlands, Nepal’s bowling aims to perform well. The strong support from Nepali fans, who filled the Grand Prairie Stadium in the previous match, could be a crucial factor. It is expected that a large number of Nepali supporters will attend the match at the Central Broward Cricket Stadium, which has a capacity of around 13,000 spectators.

"It is surprising to see the passion in Nepali cricket. The stadium is full of Nepali spectators. I am happy to see this team in the World Cup," said Sri Lanka’s coach Aqib.


Leave A Comment