After two convincing victories in the group stage, Nepal’s real test in the 17th Asian Games will begin when they take on Afghanistan in the quarter-finals at the Yeonhui Cricket Ground in Incheon on Wednesday.
Nepalese across the globe will begin celebrating their most loved festival Dashain from Wednesday and it could be a double merry making for the country if the cricketers gift them with another victory against their archrivals in the shorter version of the game.
Afghanistan has always been a thorn for Nepal in any international tournament with the battle cherished by people from both countries – be it in football or in cricket. Nepal recently ended their nine-year old losing streak to Afghanistan in cricket’s grandest stage – the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh.
And with an experimental Afghan side that has headed for Korea, Nepal have a golden opportunity to not only continue their winning streak but also take a stride towards an Asiad medal that has eluded the Nepali camp in Korea.
Skipper Paras Khadka is very much eager to gift Nepalese a victory on the festive mood but he wants to refrain from getting carried away. “We are expected to return with medal. But this is not the right time to claim it,” Paras told journalist Pawan Acharya in Incheon.
“Yes we are in the track to win medal but it is not enough. The medal possibility could get higher only if we defeat Afghanistan. They are a strong side which has been playing quality cricket for quite a long time. We can neither underrate ourselves nor take them lightly,” said the Nepali skipper.
Afghanistan has landed in Korea with Mohammad Nabi and Shamiullah Shenwari as the only experienced players. A majority of their full strength side is involved in the ICC High Performance Program for the 2015 One Day World Cup.
Having got a chance to play a depleted Afghanistan side, a full-strength Nepal will always fancy a chance to defeat them with all their might and seal a place in the semi-finals. If Nepal passes the Afghanistan test, familiar foes Hong Kong will be another battle for Nepal in the last four.
Nepal had crushed Kuwait by nine wickets and Maldives by seven wickets to win Group ‘B’. The Afghanistan match will also be a point to prove for coach Pubudu Dassanayake who returned back to take his post despite uncertainties going around his status.
Nepal versus Afghanistan Head to Head ACC T20 Cup 2007: Nepal Lost by 6 Wickets
ACC T20 Cup 2011: Nepal Lost by 9 Wickets
World T20 Qualifier 2012: Nepal Lost by 34 Runs
ACC T20 Cup 2013: Nepal Lost by 7 Wickets
World T20 Qualifier 2013, Group Stage: Nepal Lost by 9 Wickets
World T20 Qualifier 2013, Semi Final: Nepal Lost by 7 Wickets
ICC World T20 2014: Nepal Won by 9 Runs