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Spinners’ supremacy and batting headache

National team coach Binod Das
said this is the first time that I am finding our U-19 team so good. Binod’s statement
has so far been a good sign for Nepal as it is currently undergoing U-19 World
Cup Division 1 Asia Qualifier in Singapore. Come goodness, Nepal will be in the
ICC U-19 World Cup in New Zealand next year.

But into their second match,
Binod’s statement is yet to be justified because everyone knows why the coach
has so much faith in the team – a straight forward answer is he must be pinning
hopes on Nepal’s batting.

Considering the two matches that
Nepal have won so far, the goodness is still to be evident. After struggling in
their four-wicket victory over Singapore in the tournament opener on
Monday when Nepal bundled out the hosts Singapore for just 73 runs, Binod’s belief
was once again shaken after their team lost five wickets in chase of another
lowly target.

Nepal bundled out Malaysia for
just 58 runs after spinners set them on course for what could have been another
big victory but they went on to lose five wickets. Although Nepal went on to
win the game in 10 overs, the team failed to return with a big-margin win and
concurrently it has exposed batting frailties.

 

Batsmen should mean business

Gone are the days of Mehboob
Alam and then-captain-now-coach Binod who had terrorized opponents at this
level with their pace firepower. For a long time, Nepali squad has been winning
u-19 tournaments on the back of their spinners. And in a team that is led by
leg spinning sensation Sandeep Lamichhane, the current squad is not an
exception.

Sandeep was once again the
architect of Nepal’s victory over Malaysia on Tuesday picking up 5-17
– his second consecutive five-wicket haul in the tournament. But being a top
class spinner, picking up wickets against the sides that have hardly put up any
fight in age group tournaments.

And added to the squad is Pawan
Sarraf and Shahab Alam, there is no way any age group teams from Singapore or
Malaysia will manage to negotiate with this class of spinning bowlers. The spin
trio of Sandeep, Sarraf and Shahab is obvious to put teams like Singapore and
Malaysia in a spin. But they are not the only teams in the tournament.

The Afghan giants are coming and
the trio’s effort could fall short. Nepali spin trio can stem the run flow
against Afghans and taking an account of their aggressiveness in the first two
matches, we can expect runs to leak from them in a proportion that could be
ominous for Nepal. Nepal’s batting in the Qualifier hitherto says so.

If Nepal is to gain an edge
against the Afghans, their batsmen need to deliver. Spinners can deliver but
Afghanistan has been showing boating class with their age group cricket as
well. They cantered to victory against Malaysia in just 5.4 overs and 17 overs
against Singapore, suggesting they mean business.

The business
should now belong to Nepali batsmen who need to make full use of all their
experiences in a recent preparation tour of India and exposure of playing
against senior players at domestic tournaments.

Nepal
19 VS Malaysia U19

Malaysia
U19 – 58/10 in 25.5 overs

Haiqal
Khair – 9 runs in 27 balls (1 four)

 

Sandeep
Lamichhane – 8.5-1-17-7

Pawan
Sarraf – 3-1-9-3

Sandeep
Sunar – 2-0-3-1

Kishor
Mahato – 5-0-9-1

 

Nepal
U19 – 61 for 5 in 9.5 overs

Aasif
Sheikh – 23 runs in 20 balls (5 fours)

Pranit
Thapa Magar – 18 not out in 12 balls (1 four, 1 six)

 

Nepal
U19 won the match by 5 wickets with 241 balls remaining

Man
of the match – Sandeep Lamichhane 

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