Dec 6, 2017-Nepal take on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in their first of the seventh and final round matches of the ICC World Cricket League Championship (WCLC) at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Nepal have already lost an opportunity to earn an automatic berth in the 2018 ICC World Cup Qualifiers after they were confirmed of not finishing inside the top four spots of the eight-team WCLC. The only way Nepal now can realise their 50-over World Cup dream is through next year’s WCL Division 2 in Namibia where the top two teams will make it to the Qualifiers.
With just nine points from six rounds, Nepal currently sit at the sixth spot and the two matches against the Emiratis will give Nepal a chance to buckle up for February’s Division 2 tournament. Nepal captain Paras Khadka said his team’s focus is firmly placed in Division 2 tournament. “This fixture (against the UAE) has been different for us because it was not like other WCL games where we directly go and play against our opponents. Fortunately, we had two warm-up matches (against USA and Kenya) and we had 16 players around,” Khadka told popular cricket website cricinfo.com.
“We are trying to build and give experience to our youngsters as much as possible. The boys are heading towards right direction and we are really looking forward to Division 2,” added Khadka. Nepal had left for the UAE with a 16-member squad carrying extra players in Anil Sah and Kushal Bhurtel, who were given the opportunities to play against USA and Kenya.
However, both the youngsters are not in the squad for the matches against the
UAE. Nepal will go with the squad that played against Hong Kong with an addition of middle order batsman Sharad Vesawkar who had to pull out of the game due to viral fever. With Sagar Pun going out of form at the opening department, it would be interesting to see whether or not coach Jagat Tamatta try out a new opening combination of Dilip Nath and Gyanendra Malla.
Vesawkar will bat at No 3 and will be followed by skipper Khadka. Dipendra Singh Airee, Aarif Sheikh and Binod Bhandari are likely to form the middle order. If Pun manages to sneak in the playing XI, either Sheikh or Bhandari might lose their place. The suspense will remain on the status of left-arm seamer Lalit Singh Bhandari who had picked up four wickets against Kenya to hand Nepal a six-wicket victory in their second warm-up game. Bhandari’s debut might mean no place for another seamer Karan KC.
Sompal Kami will spearhead the fast bowling attack, while veteran left arm spinner Shakti Gauchan, Basanta Regmi and Sandeep Lamichhane will form the trio of spinners.