Malla denied Kuwait visa for Elite Cup

KATHMANDU: Vice-captain of Nepali national cricket team Gyanendra Malla has been denied Kuwaiti visa making his participation in the ACC Trophy Elite Cup doubtful.

The event begins on Wednesday. A 16-member Nepali team left for Kuwati this morning without vice-captain Malla who was denied the visa for the second time. Nepal have so far played two tournaments in Kuwait — first ACC Twenty20 in 2007 and ACC U-19 Elite Cup in 2009 — and Malla is the only player of the current team to have played in both the events.

“We have applied for visa for the third time on Sunday and hopefully we will get confirmation of his (Malla) participation by Tuesday,” said Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) President Binay Raj Pandey.

“He will leave for Kuwait on Wednesday provided he gets visa by tomorrow,” added Pandey. The CAN President said they have no option other than to replace Malla with one of the three reserves — Subhash Khakurel, Pradeep Airee and Naresh Budhayer — if his application is rejected yet again.

Nepal are drawn in Group A with the defending champions Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuwait and Oman in the eighth edition of the tournament. Group B comprises of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Afghanistan, Malaysia, Bahrain and Bhutan.

Pandey said it would be a huge setback for Nepal cricket if Malla missed the tournament. “We have also taken the tournament as a strong platform in our preparation for the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division-IV and if a key member of the team is denied the exposure, it will be a huge loss for us,” added Pandey.

Pandey also said that he has already reported the incident to the ACC. “Such incidents (visa denial) is becoming a normal routine while tournaments are organised in the gulf regions,” said the CAN president. Pandey said he has also asked the ACC to make it an agenda in the next ACC meeting. “I have asked them (ACC) to consider these issues while naming the hosts,” said Pandey.

Allrounder Mehboob Alam was denied the visa for Sharjah during the ACC Premier League in 2006. Mehboob and assistant coach Manjoor Alam Khan were also initially denied the Dubai visa for the ACC Twenty20 tournament in 2009. The duo joined the team in the last moment.