Nepal play HK in ACC Premier League today

Gauchan out, Gupta in; Paras vice-captain

Kathmandu, October 12:

Weakened by the absence of key players, Nepal will have a tough time in the Asian Premier League opener when they face Hong Kong in the three-day here at the Tribhuvan University Stadium from Friday.

Nepal, who lost medium pacer Dhirendra Chand due to back pain on Tuesday, received another blow when vice-captain Shakti Gauchan was ruled out due to eye infection. Akash Gupta replaced him, while Paras Khadka was named the vice captain of the team.

Skipper Binod Das was, however, confident with his team. “Last year, we dominated almost all the teams in the ACC Fast Track Countries Tournament and we will try to maintain that record this year as well,” he said. “Hopefully we can come out with a win in the first match,” he added. Asked about the team combination, Das said that the team would miss the services of Gauchan and Chand. “We have got enough firepower and hope the hard work we pit in during training will be reflected in the match,” said Das.

Coach Roy Luke Dias said that the he was confident of starting the series well. “This is an important match for us and we will have to start well against Hong Kong,” said the former Sri Lankan Test batsman. “We are going to be positive, though we miss our key players,” said Dias of Chand, Gauchan and opener Kanishka Chaugain, who went to the US for further studies months ago.

Asked about the possible opener partner for Paresh Lohani, Dias said is considering Mahesh Chhetry to open. “I don’t want to sacrifice Gyanendra Malla as opener in three-days.

In their last two encounters, Hong Kong defeated Nepal in Hong Kong in October 2004, while the match in Kathmandu in May 2005 ended in a draw.

Hong Kong skipper Ravi Sujenani said that his team was looking forward for a good contest. “We came here with a couple of new boys and hope to have a good game,” said Sujenani.

“This is a different wicket with different condition,” said Sujenani about their recent 158-run loss to Singapore. He also rued the absence of thie team’s key player Rahul Sharma.

John Players, CAN pact

KATHMANDU: Cricket Association of Nepal on Thursday announced its pact with Surya Nepal’s John Players, which has agreed to sponsor the Nepali team for the ACC Premier League Tournament. John Players will provide CAN with Rs 300,000 for the four three-day matches. In return, the Nepali team will use John Players logo in its jersey, said CAN President Binay Raj Pandey at a press meet. Abhijeet Chakrabarti and Bal Krishna Gurung of John Players were also present.

Pandey also announced CAN’s brief programmes on the occasion. Pandey said that CAN would begin negotiation with the ACC to build the stalled Cricket Academy. Highlighting their priorities, he said they would try to seek additional funding from the ACC. Organising two-day Senior National League, Zonal Under-13 Inter-school Tournament, Club-level Twenty20 cricket and introduction of Women Cricket are among the few other programmes Pandey referred to as their future programme. — HNS