Nepali cricketers all set for U-19 World Cup

Kathmandu, January 19

Nepali youth cricket team is all set to participate in the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup with second round berth in mind.

Nepal are in Group D along with India, New Zealand and Ireland, who chipped in after Australia withdrew citing security concerns. After playing against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the official practice matches, Nepal will open the campaign with a match against New Zealand on January 28. Nepal will then face Ireland on January 30 before facing India on February 1.

Top two teams each from four groups will advance to the Super League, while the bottom two will play in Plate Championship. Nepal, who aare playing their seventh World Cup, had advanced to the second round in 2004 and won the Plate Championship two years later in Sri Lanka.

This time around, the team has set a target of advancing to the Super League. “We have a chance to do that. We know we can beat Ireland and if we play as per the team strategy against New Zealand, we are in the second round,” said coach Jagat Tamatta, the first local coach leading the youth team in the World Cup. Nepal are known for pulling upset wins in the youth World Cup and have beaten New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa in previous outings.

Coach Tamatta said the players were mentally and physically strong. “Playing in World Cup is always a challenge. But we will perform good as we will be playing in all-round base and the India tour helped us a lot in gaining much-needed exposure for the players,” he added. “These players are together for the last six months and they do not need to fear anyone as we will play to our strength.” Tamatta said the tournament in Bangladesh would be an advantage for Nepal. “The wickets in Bangladesh will be slow and we have four quality spinners. That will help us in fighting with any team.”

Bowling coach and former skipper Binod Das said the team was heavily tilted on spinners. “The conditions in Bangladesh will be similar to that of ours and the wickets will turn a little bit as they do in our country. We have prepared accordingly,” said Das. “Hopefully we will use the same tactics that worked for us in India tour. All we need to do is execute the plans to remain in shape,” he added. Das said the team was well equipped in bowling department and we have done all the home works from our side.”

The vastly experienced player with two-time youth World Cup appearances, Das has been counselling the players apart from adjusting the bowling attack. “I am more of a mentor in the squad and my role is to counsel the players to tackle the situation. I am trying to pass my experience concentrating on particular situations,” he said. Das said the team was bit concerned about the absence of a proper medium pacer. “I agree we do not have a fast bowler but I think we have sufficient bowling attack for the conditions we are going to play,” said Das.

Skipper Raju Rijal said the players had improved a lot since the World Cup Qualifiers held in Malaysia in October last year. “We are going to compete in big stage and we are prepared to beat big teams,” Rijal said. “We are mentally ready to participate in the tournament. We are playing against the likes of India and New Zealand and if we want to shine we will have to beat a strong team,” he added.