Nepali Cricketers preparing for their Asian Games/Photo: CAN
KATHMANDU: The Nepali cricket team is set to compete in the 19th Asian Games scheduled to be held in Guangzhou, China, from September 27th. The men’s cricket matches will be played in the T20 format, featuring 13 participating teams.
This marks Nepal’s debut in T20 format tournaments, following a five-match T20 international series held in Kenya in August of the previous year.
In the past year, Nepal participated in 16 matches as part of the League Two series, which serves as a qualification for the One Day World Cup. Their impressive performance, securing 11 victories out of the last 12 League Two games, earned them ODI recognition and qualification for the World Cup.
Additionally, Nepal clinched the ACC Premier Cup title and went on to play ODIs against India and Pakistan in the Asia Cup.
Now, Nepal is intently focused on the T20 World Cup qualification. The Asian Games holds significant importance for Nepal, as they are gearing up to host the T20 World Cup qualifying matches in November.
Nepal will compete against UAE, Oman, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bahrain, Malaysia, and eight other nations in the T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier. The top two teams will secure spots in the T20 World Cup scheduled for the following year in the West Indies and America.
Captain Rohit Kumar Paudel expressed their readiness for the T20 format, emphasizing the need for an aggressive approach. He stated, “In T20 format, everyone plays a little aggressively. We need to focus on setting higher targets.”
In the upcoming Asian Games in China, Nepal is slated to face Mongolia on September 27th and Maldives on October 1st. Following the group stage, they may have the opportunity to compete against India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, or Bangladesh.
Notably, these countries have sent their secondary teams to the Asian Games as they prepare for the ODI World Cup in October-November.
Rohit emphasized their commitment to enhancing their game, saying, “We’ll take one game at a time,” as they prepare at the TU Cricket Ground in Kirtipur.
Changes in the Team
During the Asia Cup, the Nepali team comprised 17 members. However, Aarif Sheikh, Bhim Sarki, Kishore Mahato, Arjun Saud, and Shyam Dhakal have been omitted from the squad for the upcoming matches.
Wicketkeeper Vinod Bhandari, all-rounder Vivek Kumar Yadav, and fast bowler Avinash Bohora have returned to the team. Vinod and Asif will serve as the two wicketkeepers for the Nepali team at the Asiad.
The squad boasts experienced batsmen in Kushal Bhurtel, Rohit Paudel, and Sandeep Zora, while Dipendra Singh Airee, Kushal Malla, and Vivek Yadav bring all-round abilities to the lineup.
The fast-bowling department includes Sompal Kami, Karan KC, Gulsan Jha, Pratish JC, and Avinash Bohra, with Sandeep Lamichhane and Lalit Rajwanshi providing spin options.