Nepal’s national cricket team is all set to play its first match in the ICC World Cricket League Division II, set to start on Thursday. Results from the tournament, which will feature six teams from Asia, Africa and North America, will determine who gets to play the ICC World Cup Qualifiers next month in Zimbabwe.
Nepal go into the tournament with defeats against Hong Kong, which cost them a place in the Qualifers, and the UAE. However, the team under the leadership of Paras Khadka has been reinvigorated with young talents, especially batsmen. Here’s a look at five contests to follow to the first match of the tournament.
Paras vs Sarel Burger
When it comes to batting, Nepal’s skipper Paras Khadka is the best that Nepal have. For Namibia, their skipper is Sarel Burger is the most experienced bowler in the side. During the last two matches against Nepal, Burger’s performance helped his side put up a fight against the home team when the African side travelled to Kathmandu in April 2016. In the first match, Burger bowled Paras Khadka and in the second match threatened to take the game away from Nepal with three late strikes. During the World Cricket League Championship, Burger claimed 13 wickets in 14 matches.
Sharad vs Scoltz
If Namibian fans were to be asked which Nepali batsman they remember from Division I, they would definitely name Sharad Veshawker. During both the matched played in Kathmandu, the Namibians could not get him out. In the first match, he scored 50 off 99 balls, in the second it was 74 runs off 165 balls. The 27-year-old Bernard Scoltz, who has the claimed the most number of wickets (15) for his team in Division I, could trouble Veshawker with his left arm slow orthodox.
Sandeep vs Baard
Former Namibia captain and opening batsman Stephen maintained a strike rate of over a hundred during Division I of the ICC World Cricket League. Once Baard gets going, it will be difficult for any bowler to claim his wicket. During the first match, he scored 18 runs before was trapped LBW by pacer Sompal Kami. However, in the second match, he was set to score big, He was removed by leggie Sandeep Lamichhane just after he completed his half-century. The two are reported to have had an interesting conversation after Baard’s dismissal. The contest looks exciting.
Sompal vs Green
Sompal Kami was Nepal’s second-highest wicket taker in Division I. He claimed 15 wickets in the 13 matches he played for his side in the championship. Twenty-one-year-old Zane Green opens the batting for his side along with Baard. Although he hasn’t been amongst the runs in Division I, he hits a lot of fours when he is in form. In the nine matches he played in Division I, he scored 24 fours. It will be up to Sompal Kami to stop him.
Dipendra vs Smitt
Nepal’s Dipendra Singh Airee loves to rotate strike and take singles when the big boundaries are not coming. But Namibia’s 22-year-old left arm pacer JJ Smit knows how to stem the flow of runs when it matters. His economy rate of 4.91 during Division I and the six wickets he claimed by getting batsmen out caught show that the contest between the two will be worth watching.