Nepal a promotion favourite

KATHMANDU: Three teams — Nepal, the United States of America (USA) and Singapore — are in the race for promotion as the final league round matches of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division-V concludes on Friday.

But the equation is such that even Nepal, despite winning all four matches, are not assured of one of the two berths available for the Division-IV tournament. The home team are on top of the table with eight points but all three teams can wound up at eight points each if USA beat the hosts and Singapore defeat Jersey on Friday. Under such situation, two teams with better net run rates (NRR) will get promotions.

But given the unpredictable nature of the game, Nepal’s qualification push could be cut short if they go down heavily against the USA (NRR:1.355) at the TU Stadium and Singapore (NRR: 1.114) inflict similar defeat to Jersey at the BSAM grounds.

Putting aside all the equations, Nepal would be keen to end their qualification run on a winning note. Even before the tournament kicked off, Nepal’s Sri Lankan coach Roy Luke Dias and skipper Paras Khadka had singled out the USA as the biggest threat. But Nepal’s strong performance so far, combined with USA’s failure against Singapore, have provided enough room to believe that the hosts can indeed end their promotion push with a victory.

“We are not thinking of statistics at the moment as we will go for win tomorrow,” said confident Khadka. “We have set a standard by winning all previous four matches and hope to maintain that against the USA as well,” said the Nepali skipper adding that they have also prepared to tackle the situation if net run-rate comes into play.

Even individual statistics make home team a clear favourite in Friday’s match with skipper Khadka on top of the runs scores’ list and left-arm spinner Basanta Regmi leading the wicket takers’ tally. Khadka have so far accumulated 233 runs at an average of 77.66 with three half centuries to his credits. Sharad Vesawkar, the only batsman to score a century in the event so far, also features in the top 10 with 192 runs. Except for the openers, Nepal’s batting depth can be assessed by the fact that Basanta has also struck a half century under pressure.

Left-arm spinner Basanta has been the most successful bowlers of the tournament with 11 wickets. USA’s right-arm medium pacer Kevin Darlington also has 11 wickets to his credit but the Nepali spinner has an enviable economy rate of 2.43. Nepal’s off-spinner Sanjam Regmi and USA’s Cush both have nine wickets under their belts.

Meanwhile, the misfiring opening batting pair of Dipendra Chaudhary and Mehboob Alam has been a real concern for the Nepali team. But coach Dias might still stick to the combination. “Everyone are performing well down the order. So I can’t think of changing the order,” said Dias after the Fiji match.

However, it would be a huge blunder for the hosts to undermine the USA’s battling strength as four of their batsmen also feature in the highest run getters chart. Native of Guyana Steve Massiah (192 runs) has by far proved himself as the most consistent batsman having scored three half centuries. Skipper Lennox Cush (160), who was int the Guyana team in the $20m Stanford T20 Cricket, has so far struck two half centuries.

Govt to provide Rs 3m to CAN

KATHMANDU: The Nepal government on Wednesday decided to provide a grant assistance of three million rupees for the local organisers — Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) — of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division-V. A cabinet meeting on Wednesday decided to provide the grant following the request from the CAN, the cricket governing body of Nepal. The Division-V tournament, a ladder to the 2015 cricket World Cup, is the first ICC event hosted by Nepal.