As the first ever match against a Test playing nation looms for Nepal, the team will breathe easy against the hosts who will take on the field with huge expectations from the local supporters.
Nepal will have nothing to lose in the match under the floodlights at the electrifying Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong which was already sold out months before the Nepal were finalised as their opponents.
Nepal have a history of playing against Bangladesh in the past but by that time the current minnows among the Test playing nations were yet to be recognised as the ODI team. Bangladesh then made a huge stride in world cricket when they qualified for the 1999 World Cup winning the ICC Trophy in Malaysia.
Bangladesh stunned Pakistan in the World Cup and a year later earned Test status. Bangladesh stepped into he world cricket with the 1986 Asia Cup match against Pakistan, while Nepal played their first ACC Trophy match 10 years later.
With a long history of cricket and a point to prove as an improving Test side, Bangladesh will have all the pressure in the match on Tuesday and not in Nepal. Nepal are yet to win an ODI status and currently are a Division-II side.
With the gulf of ICC status separating two teams, even a competitive loss will salvage a huge amount of pride for Nepal and a victory will be the biggest bonus to all Nepali cricket lovers and fan. An unexpected victory over Bangladesh can also give Nepal a strong chance to qualify for the Super 10 where they could join India, Pakistan, Australia and West Indies.
Rather than a challenge, skipper Paras Khadka knows how he should be looking at the match against the hosts. “We rarely get an opporunity to play against a team like Bangladesh. Its a huge opportunity for us and we will give our best against them. If we repeat our performance against Hong Kong, then we can give a good fight,” said Paras.
Nepal will go into the match with an unchanged squad including two seamers in Som Pal Kami and Jitendra Mukhiya along with four spinners in Shakti Gauchan, Basanta Regmi, Sagar Pun and Paras. Coach Pubudu Dassanayake said if openers Sagar and Subash Khakurel provide Nepal with the start they did against Hong Kong, his side could build on to a good total.
“If we get a good start from the openers, Paras and Gyanu will get time to settle down. The wickets here support bowlers and the main challenge for us is going to be in making runs,” said the coach.
Bangladesh will no doubt head into the match as favourites with a return of their premier seamer Mashrafe Mortaza expected. Nepali bowlers real test will be to handle experienced opener Tamim Iqbal, skipper Mushfiqur Rahim and all rounder Shakib-Al-Hassan.
While Mushfiqur have been one of the consistent performers of the Bangladeshi team who has been playing frequent long innings against Test playing giants, left handers Tamim and Shakib will be the headache for Nepal’s left armers Shakti and Basanta. Under these circumstance, Paras and Sagar will need to deliver for Nepal.