Nepal, Netherlands and Malaysia will resume their international cricket when the three Associate nations battle for the Tri-Nation Twenty20 International Series beginning from Saturday.
In what is expected to be a high-intensity clash hosts Nepal will take on the Netherlands in the tournament opener at the Tribhuvan University Stadium where pitches have played well recently in domestic tournaments and is perfectly set for Twenty20 battle.
All three teams are playing their first internationals after Corona Virus pandemic brought halt to global sports from March last year. Although other international events have begun, the pandemic has halted international cricket for Associate nations after the second strain of the virus forced further travel restrictions.
The stage, however, is set for all the three nations for an exciting contest after the Cricket Association of Nepal dared to organise the tournament under adverse circumstances. Before the Saturday start, we look at where the teams stand for the Series.
Netherlands: Major title contenders
The Dutch side have not played any Twenty20 International since November’s ICC Twenty20 World Cup Qualifier in 2019. One of the most hard-hit zones in Europe, Netherlands has struggled to get back into its feet on cricket and will be itching to make the most of rare opportunity they have in the last 16 months.
Netherlands have left out their experienced duo of Ryan ten Doeschate and former South African allrounder Roelf van der Merwe who both had had experience of playing under Nepali conditions during the Everest Premier League. They are also without Timm van der Gugten.
Although Netherlands have come up with a haul of young players, the side led by Pieter Seelar including Ben Cooper, Max O’Dowd, Paul van Meekeren and Bas de Leede still make them a formidable opponent. Having won the 2019 ICC Twenty20 World Cup Qualifier, Netherlands head into the tournament as the favourites.
NETHERLANDS SQUAD: Pieter Seelaar (capt), Tobias Visée, Ben Cooper, Max O’Dowd, Bas de Leede, Vikramjit Singh, Scott Edwards, Aryan Dutt, Philippe Boissevain, Paul van Meekeren, Vivian Kingma, Tonny Staal, Sebastiaan Braat, Julian de Mey
One of the most improved side among the Asian Associates, Malaysia come into the tournament buoyed by their victory over Nepal during the ACC Eastern Region Twenty20 Asia Cup Qualifiers. Malaysia’s victory in February, 2020 had come after they clean-swept Hong Kong 5-0 in their bilateral Twenty20 International Series.
However, Malaysia’s crucial run in their Twenty20 International journey was suddenly stopped by COVID-19 and they must rebuild with this tournament.
Malaysia have been playing with a core squad for the last few years and they remain almost unchanged for the Tri-Nation Series since they last beat Nepa. Syed Aziz will once again be their batting mainstay, while an improving Virandeep Singh will be leading the top order that also includes Anwar Arudin.
The side led by Ahmed Faiz will also pin hopes on spinner Pavandeep Singh, medium pacer Sharvin Muniandy, Khijar Hayat and Fitri Sham.
MALAYSIA SQUAD: Ahmad Faiz (capt), Virandeep Singh, Syed Aziz Bin Syed Mubarak, Sharvin Muniandy, Anwar Arudin, Mohd Shafiq Sharif, Ainool Hafizs, Aminudin Ramly, Muhammad Anwar Rahman, Syazrul Idrus, Muhammad Wafiq, Pavandeep Singh, Fitri Sham, Khizar Hayat Durani and Dhivendran Mogan
Nepal: Hosts seeking redemption
Nepal’s last international appearance was a debacle. Deservedly seeking a place in the Asia Cup Twenty20 Qualifiers, they headed for the Eastern Region Qualifiers where the top two sides would qualify. But on a disastrous note they lost to Malaysia and a depleted Hong Kong side and finished fourth.
For a team that played the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 finals, Nepal were hitting the lowest ebb in their international cricket of the shorter version. The Thailand tragedy had preceded by another horrible display in the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier Asia Region where they lost to Qatar and Singapore and failed to make it to the Global Qualifier since their first participating in 2012.
With the title on offer at the home soil, Tri-Nation Series will be a tournament where Nepal can redeem themselves. Into the second year under new captain Gyanendra Malla, Nepal are tipped favourites with an experienced squad that recently gained experience of franchise cricket.
An influential Paras Khadka will still be the key for Nepali team that has global star Sandeep Lamichhane. Sompal Kami, Karan KC and Kushal Malla all come into the tournament with their appearance in the Abu Dhabi T10 League, while under home conditions everything seems to perfect for other players in side.
The Tri-Series will also be the first test for newly-appointed Nepal coach Dav Whatmore who took over the reins of the country’s cricket in January but is yet to appear in an international tournament.
NEPAL SQUAD: Gyanendra Malla (capt), Dipendra Singh Airee, Paras Khadka, Sandeep Lamichhane, Sompal Kami, Karan KC, Aasif Sheikh, Aarif Sheikh, Binod Bhandari, Kushal Bhurtel, Kushal Malla, Sushan Bhari, Shahab Alam, Kamal Singh Airee, Abinash Bohora
Nepal vs Netherlands vs Malaysia Complete Tie-Sheet
|April 17, 2021||Nepal versus Netherlands||1:15 NST||TU Grounds|
|April 18, 2021||Netherlands vs Malaysia||12:15 NST||TU Grounds|
|April 19, 2021||Nepal vs Malaysia||1:15 NST||TU Grounds|
|April 20, 2021||Nepal vs Netherlands||1:15 NST||TU Grounds|
|April 21, 2021||Netherlands vs Malaysia||12:15 NST||TU Grounds|
|April 22, 2021||Nepal vs Malaysia||1:15 NST||TU Grounds|
|April 23, 2021||REST DAY|
|April 24, 2021||FINAL||1:15 NST||TU Grounds|