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Nepal wants to carry momentum

It has not been that long since Nepal ended a six-match losing streak against the UAE. After losing to the one time 50-over World Cup finalists in the 1998 ACC Trophy, Nepal went down to UAE in 2000, twice in 2002, in 2006 and in 2008. The losing jinx finally ended just 15 months back when Nepal defeated UAE by four wickets in the 2012 ACC Trophy group stage.


The submissiveness might have taken its toll when Nepal drew against the Asian archrivals sharing the latest ACC Trophy when in a chase of 241 runs, they settled for a thrilling draw. But, still a huge amount of confidence was taken that was obvious in Nepal’s victory over the UAE in the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers third place playoff match on November 29 in Abu Dhabi.


When Nepal take on the field for their first Group ‘A’ match of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers, UAE will not meet a team whom they once humbled for six times. The entire UAE camp will be aware of the Nepali team that now comes to the tournament being a World Twenty20 playing side and completing a run-up of 13 limited over matches.


At the Rangiora Oval, Nepal have been boosted by the news of skipper Paras Khadka’s return following his recovery from a back strain. Though regular opener Subash Khakurel is not going to be in the final-XI due to viral fever, Nepal will still go for the kill.


“The team is in good shape. The wickets here are not as difficult to bat as we thought earlier. They are basically flat batting wickets with not much of turn but skid for spinners. We are going to give our hundred percent tomorrow and will look to continue the winning streak against UAE,” Paras said on the eve of the match.


While Mahesh Chhetri will replace Subash to open with Anil Mandal, Sagar Pun is a new-found No 3 batsman for Nepal. Gyanendra Malla has been pushed to No 5 after Paras, Dassanayake is planning to go into the match with three spinners in Sagar, Basanta Regmi and Shakti Gauchan.


Considering the seaming wickets Som Pal will spearhead the pace attack along with Jitendra Mukhiya. Sharad Vesawkar and Binod Bhandari will once again be playing a role of a finisher. Prithu Baskota, Pradeep Airee and Avinash Karn are expected to be rested.


Though Nepal lost two of their official warm-up matches against Namibia and Kenya, the slim-margin defeat inflicted in absence of Paras and Subash has hardly irked Dassanayake. “We have earned respect from all the participating teams due to our recent performance. We are capable to beat any team here and we have come to win the trophy. We tried different combinations and players in the practice matches. So despite losing them, our moral is high,” said Dassanayake.

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