Acc u-15 elite cup : Nepal confident of defending title

Kathmandu, November 24:

Nepal are confident of defending the ACC Under-15 Elite Cup cricket tournament beginning

here from Sunday.

“It’s going to be tough but we will put in every effort to defend the title at home soil,” said Nepal coach Roy Luke Dias on the eve of the event. “I won’t say I have a balanced side, but with the given team I hope we will do well in the tournament,” Dias told The Himalayan Times.

In all, 10 teams - Nepal, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Singapore, Hong Kong, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Bhutan - are taking part in the 10-day tournament. The matches will be held at four venues - Tribhuvan University (TU) Stadium

in Kirtipur, newly-built

Laboratory (Lab) School in Kirtipur, Institute of Engineering (IoE) in Lalitpur and Birendra Sainik Awasiya Mahavidyalaya (BSAM) in Bhaktapur.

Two-time defending champion Nepal, Oman, Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia are in Group A, while the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Singapore are in Group B. Top two teams each from both the groups will advance to the semi-finals.

Nepal will open their campaign against Malaysia at TU Stadium on Sunday, before playing Thailand at Lab School on November 27, Oman at the IoE on November 28 and Hong Kong at BSAM on November 30.

Asked about the preparations, Dias said that he got the full squad only two days before the event. “Due to the technical reasons, I could not get the final 14 players on time. Every team now wants to beat Nepal and that will put extra pressure on me,” said Dias.

Dias expressed concern on his batsmen. “I have quality bowlers, both fast and spinners, but don’t have enough batsmen,” he said, adding he had a couple of experienced players in the team who can really fight for the team.

Prithu Baskota, who led Nepal to victory in the last edition of the event in Malaysia, is once again leading the side, but Dias was worried about his form. “He (Prithu) played in the two-day format in Malaysia and has not played cricket for a long time,” he said.

Prithu did not play in the national tournament and Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) — which was running out of players due to ACC’s age verification programme — called him to lead the side after more than half the preliminary 23-member squad were ruled out due to over age. CAN announced the final 14 players only on Wednesday.

Prithu said he was confident of defending the title despite the lack of preparation time. “We are playing on the home ground and we eye nothing but the win,” he said. “Our batting line up is little weak compared to bowling and fielding, but we are determined to perform well,” he added.