Musical chairs continue, Das new captain

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, January 4:

Cricket Association of Nepal today announced the 14-member squad for International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup Qualifying Series Division 2 Cricket Tournament to be held in Malaysia next month.

Raju Khadka, who was dropped from the three-day squad that played Hong Kong and Malaysia last year, has been dropped from the one-day side too. The National Selection Committee under Bijay Kumar Sharma, named Binod Das as the skipper of the squad, while Shakti Prasad Gauchan has been named his deputy.

“As Khadka could not show results, we were compelled to look for alternatives,” said Sharma talking to The Himalayan Times.

The players were selected on the basis of their performances in the recently-concluded Birendra Memorial National League Cricket Tournament. Binod Das won the best bowler’s award in the tournament with 13 wickets.

The ICC World Cup Qualifying Series Division 2 Cricket Tournament is crucial for Nepal to keep their hopes alive of playing in the 2007 World Cup. Nepal has already missed a chance after they failed to qualify for the final of the ACC Trophy held in Malaysia in June last year.

Other members who were retained in the 14-member squad include Paresh Lohani, Manjeet Shrestha, Kanishka Chaugain, Sharad Vesawkar, Sanjam Regmi, Raj Kumar Pradhan, Dipendra Chaudhary, Unil Shrestha, Mehboob Alam and Paras Khadka.

Lakpa Lama, the star spin bowler in the Under-19 level, has been included in the national side in place of Raju Basnet who broke his thumb while batting in the final of the national league.

Surprise exclusion has been of regular wicketkeeper Manoj Katuwal. He is being replaced by debutant Manoj Baisya.

Katuwal has been placed among the four substitutes which includes Basanta Regmi, Dhirendra Bahadur Chand and Raj Shrestha.

“The selection panel opted for Baisya instead of Katuwal because he is a better batsman,” said Sharma. “As the tournament is vital for us, we have tried to select the best possible combination,” he added.