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Nepal tackle archrivals Afghanistan

Mar 09, 2018 | Cricketingnepal |

Nepal are taking on their longstanding rivals Afghanistan in a must-win match of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers at the Bulawayo Athletic Club in Zimbabwe on Saturday.

With two defeats from first two matches – against Zimbabwe and Scotland – Nepal’s hopes to enter the Super Six is gradually fading out but they can make an abrupt comeback in the tournament provided they beat Afghanistan in the third Group ‘B’ game. If Nepal defeat both Afghanistan and Hong Kong and see hosts Zimbabwe beat the latter, they can qualify into the Super Six and take the one-day international status.

Afghanistan have lost their three consecutive matches in the tournament as their chances for the Super Six is hanging by the thread. But despite their Qualifiers campaign being abject, Nepal will still go into the game as underdogs who have been easily beaten in the first two games.

Additionally, Nepal have not beaten Afghanistan in the last 14 years in one-day cricket having lost the newest Test member in six consecutive previous meetings.

While Nepal were smashed for 380 by Zimbabwe in their first game which they went on to lose by 116 runs, a marathon knock from skipper Kyle Coetzer saw them beaten by Scotland by four wickets. More than the nature of victory, the submissive batting from Nepal, barring skipper, Paras Khadka will hardly give them a chance for Saturday’s game.

Paras played a lone hand after Nepal’s top order wobbled under pressure when Scotland took their first five wickets for 39 runs before the crawled to 149 all out in 47.4 overs. With Paras out at 100-7, Nepal would have been humbled had there been no late resistance from Basanta Regmi, Rohit Kumar Paudel and Sandeep Lamichhane.

“We need to bat better than what we did against Scotland. Its still open for us moving into the last two games. We have to take it one game at a time. Afghanistan are going through a rough tournament. We will push everything that we have to get that win and get points on board,” Paras had told the press on Thursday. 

“We just need to get batting, bowling and fielding departments together. If we get all these three things going, we will produce the result that we want. And I hope it just happens the next day when we play Afghanistan,” added the Nepali skipper.

Nepali team will be expected to make some change in the batting order after watching continuous failure in the opening department. But against a Afghanistan side that boasts a strong bowling attack including the spinning trio of World No 1 ODI bowler Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Zadran and Mohammad Nabi along with fast bowling duo Shapoor Zadran and Dawlat Zadran, Nepali batsmen will have a lot of work to do.

Afghanistan skipper Rashid Khan believed his side is still in the hunt for the Super Six. “Its touch and go for us. We are still alive. If we win against Nepal and Nepal-Hong Kong clash goes in our favour, then we can qualify,” said Khan.


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