With their future at stake, Nepal are taking on Uganda in the opening match of the ICC World Cricket League Division-II at the Wanderers Affies in Windhoek, Namibia on Saturday.
Uganda are not new opponents for Nepal who have defeated them thrice in their five previous meetings losing two of them. But the conditions and the intensity of the tournament where each and every team has made their best preparations, getting the better of their familiar foes is going to be a hard nut to crack.
The biggest thing Nepal would like to do is to come out of the losing jinx against Uganda in the opening stages of the tournament. Nepal though went on to claim the Division-III titles twice defeating Uganda in both occasions, losing against them has often made life difficult for Nepal.
Promptly after landing with their second Division-III title in October last year from Malaysia, coach Pubudu Dassanayake had said one of the focus of his team now will be to get rid of the shaky beginning and he was confident this time around.
“We had lost against them (Uganda) on both occasions because we played for their strength. We are ready than ever for tomorrow,” Dassanayake told cricketingnepal.com from Namibia on Friday.
Nepal had lost to Uganda by six wickets in the Division-III in May, 2013 in their second match before going on to win the title bouncing back superbly, while they were beaten by 20 runs in the next Division-III tournament in October last year but repeated the same feat.
The tough tie for Nepal will be on Sunday when they meet tournament favorites the Netherlands and skipper Paras Khadka said: “It is the first match in the tournament and we want to start on a positive note. We need to stick to our basics and believe in our strength and play to our potential. It is important to get a strong start as we have seen in previous Pepsi ICC World Cricket League tournaments; every team must be prepared well, so we cannot take any game or any team lightly.”
Opening under scrutiny
Nepal’s opening combination of Subash Khakurel and Naresh Budhayer will be once again under scrutiny after a run of poor stand as a pair. Although both batsmen have managed to pile-up runs individually, the duo has not been able to give Nepal a desired start.
At a time when both batsmen are yet to forge a half century stand which has not been seen in recent matches, in-form Paras will be the key to Nepal. Paras heads into the tournament in sublime form after slamming a century and half century during the practice matches in the SA tour.
Dassanayake says his middle order is at its best and with Gyanendra already proving himself in Division-III where his first ever century, the middle order mainstay will be expected to continue his form. Sharad Vesawkar returns in the side after his hemorrhoids (piles) surgery and is looking confident like he has never been.
The big responsibility now will be on Binod Bhandari and Sagar Pun to finish off the game the way team would want. Sompal Kami will also look to get some runs after proving himself as an all-rounder in the recent matches that Nepal played.
Sompal, Karan in check
With Dassanayake already indicating to give rising fast bowler Karan KC a debut against Uganda, the fast bowler’s track in Namibia will be a place to prove themselves. Karan has been in good touch picking up nine wickets from three practice games in South Africa and Dassanayake expects his decision to include a rookie in place of Amrit Bhattarai is rightly justified. Paras playing the role of a third seamer now will make Nepali pace attack a lethal one in the tournament.
NEPAL’S PROBABLE-XI: Subash Khakurel, Naresh Budhayer, Gyanendra Malla, Paras Khadka, Sharad Vesawkar, Binod Bhandari, Sagar Pun, Sompal Kami, Basanta Regmi, Shakti Gauchan, Karan KC
Uganda head into the tournament after playing five 50-over games against Zimbabwean club Takashinga at their home town. They had also set a camp in South Africa ahead of the tournament. Skipper Frank Nsubuga expects an evenly-contested duel against Nepal.
“I think it is going to be a tough game as both teams are well balanced. My boys are very confident; we have played Nepal many times and we want to use that experience to perform well tomorrow,” Nsubuga told the ICC.
All round Uganda to deal with
Uganda have won most of their past matches on the back of their key all-rounders including Nsubuga along with Davis Arinaitwe, Lawrence Sematimba and Roger Mukasa. While Arinaitwe was the man-of-the-series in the Division-III in Bermuda, Mukasa was the top performer in Malaysia. He was the lone fighter when Nepal defeated Uganda in the Division-III final in Malaysia. Uganda’s comeback in the league stage match against Nepal in Malaysia proves the fact that they are not dependent in a single player. After being reduced to 23-5 in 13.3 overs, Uganda had went on to pile 203-8 in the board and went on to win the match by 20 runs.
Tournament Date Venue Result
Division 3 Apr 28, 2013 Bermuda Uganda won by 6 wkts
Division 3 May 5, 2013 Bermuda Nepal won by 5 wkts
ICC CWCQ Jan 28, 2014 New Zealand Nepal won by 160 runs
Division 3 Oct 23, 2014 Malaysia Uganda won by 20 runs
Division 3 Oct 30, 2014 Malaysia Nepal won by 62 runs