As the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers in Ireland and Scotland loom, Nepal will meet the Netherlands in first of the four-match Twenty20 International Bilateral Series against the Dutch in Amstelveen on Tuesday with the duel holding significance for multiple reasons.
The Netherlands and Nepal were the top performers among the associates in the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 held in Bangladesh. Owing to their impressive display in Bangladesh, the two sides were granted Twenty20 International status for two years and the series is an opportunity to prove their supremacy among associates in the shorter version of the game.
The series will also give both sides to weigh in themselves ahead of July 9-26 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers where six teams will bid to book the tickets to India for the 2016 World Twenty20.
Most importantly, Nepal will get into the ICC Twenty20 rankings after playing the four matches to join the world cricket’s elites for the first time in their sport’s history. Any team requires to play eight matches in order the get into the ICC rankings and after playing three World Twenty20 games and one against Hong Kong, Nepal are right on the track to be there.
“I cannot ask for anything more. This is something that we were always looking for. We would like to thank the International Cricket Council for approving it as an international series,” national team coach Pubudu Dassanayake had said soon after the series earned recognition as an international.
“The Twenty20 Series against the Netherlands will not only help us get into the ICC rankings but also prepare for the World Qualifiers apart from giving us a reality check,” added the coach.
Netherlands is one of the strongest teams in Qualifiers who are drawn in Group ‘B’, while Nepal will get the challenge from Ireland, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Namibia, the USA and Jersey. How Nepal fare against the Dutch in the series will partially determine their performance in the Qualifiers.
The Netherlands are brimming high on confidence having beaten Papua New Guinea in both their ICC World Cricket League Championship matches where skipper Peter Borren is in a prime form with the bat after slamming an unbeaten century in the second 50-over game.
Netherlands have beaten Nepal in their only Twenty20 encounter of 2012 World Qualifiers but the cricketers from the tiny Himalayan nation have come a long way having playing the World Twenty20 and now becoming one of the teams to challenge the Dutch in World Cricket League Championship.
They will take the confidence from their stunning victory over the Dutch during the ICC World Cricket League Division-II that was held in Namibia early this year. Skipper Paras Khadka who hit back to form in the match against Gloucestershire 2nd XI with a 54-ball 73 will once again be key for Nepal.
It will be interesting to see how the Nepali opening pair of Subash Khakurel and Sagar Pun deal against the Dutch in the opening stages of their innings, while Karan KC’s bowling prowess will also be put to the test.