Lined up alongside mighty U-23 sides from India and Pakistan and now-settled Associate giants Afghanistan, the national cricket team has set off for the ACC Emerging Teams Cup — a tournament that will test the national team ahead of two World Cup Qualifiers.
After displaying good cricket in their last two-year outing, Nepal’s focus will remain the ICC World Twenty20 and 50-over World Cup Qualifiers which can give the tiny Himalayan nation their first ever World Cup appearance.
The ACC Emerging Teams Cup, scheduled for August 17-25, is going to be a reality check for coach Pubudu Dassanayake and his team. “We have been playing well for so long and the boys are upbeat either. We need to rise above by one level and see how we fare against quality teams,” Dassanayake told cricketingnepal.com before the team left for Sri Lanka.
Dassanayake — who landed in Kathmandu just six days back after an almost three-month break in his hometown Canada — said Nepal now need to beat Afghanistan and do well against India and Pakistan.
“We have been playing against Afghanistan for quite a long time. If we are to look at the World Cup then we need to beat them (Afhganistan) now,” added the coach.
Nepal can win a place in the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 if they round up inside the top six finishes in the Qualifiers in November at the UAE and two months later, they have a chance to make it to the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup by finishing inside the top two teams in Qualifier in New Zealand.
Deprived of a full-fledged training due to monsoon, Nepal will expect their 15-day tour of Sri Lanka make up the loss at their home. With five 50-over matches scheduled in Lanka — four against the ACC Emerging Teams Cup playing Sri Lankan U-23 team and one against a North-East team, Nepal will make a full use of what is looking as a professional practice tour.
Skipper Paras Khadka, however, is in the mind to win the ACC Emerging Teams Cup irrespective of the degree of opponents they get to face in Singapore. “We have been playing very good cricket off late. If we play to our potential and everyone gives the best then we can win the title in Singapore,” said the Nepali skipper.