‘Our main target is Super Six’

Kathmandu, February 23

Nepali national cricket team, boosted by the performances in the ICC World Cricket League Division-II, has set its eyes on the Super Six rounds of the ICC World Cup Qualifiers slated for March 4-25 in Zimbabwe.

Nepal, who will leave for the qualifiers on Saturday, are in Group B along with hosts Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Scotland. Group A is formed of the West Indies, Ireland, the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and the United Arab Emirates.

Nepal will take on hosts Zimbabwe in their opening match on March 4 before taking on Scotland on March 8. Similarly, Nepal will face Afghanistan on March 10 and take on Hong Kong two days later. After the league round matches, top three teams from both pools will make it to the Super Six stage. “Our prime target is to reach the Super Six stage. Then, we will dream about World Cup. The biggest achievement would be to qualify for the World Cup. Similarly, getting One Day International status is also our target,” said skipper Paras Khadka on Friday.

In the Super Six round, teams will face three others that they did not play in group stage. All points accumulated in the group stage matches will be carried over to the Super Six stage and top two teams will qualify for the ICC World Cup 2019 to be hosted by England and Wales next year.

Similarly, Netherlands and the three highest finishing Associate Members will earn ODI status till 2022. However, skipper Khadka said the qualifiers would not be easy one as all the participating teams were equally tough. “The participating teams are good enough and the event is going to be tough as every team has dream of taking berth in next year’s World Cup and there are only two spots available,” said Khadka, who added that “four Test nations, top four position holders of ICC World Cricket League Championship along with the top two finishers of the Division-II are good sides.”

Nepal took berth in the qualifiers after winning nail-biting matches against hosts Namibia, Kenya and Canada in the Division-II. Coach Jagat Tamatta said the qualifiers would be tough but the results that his side produced in the Division-II have boosted players’ morale for the Zimbabwe event.

“The tournament would be tough compared to that of Division-II. But the players are mentally strong and physically fit to play the event. With the sensational wins in the Division-II, they have proved themselves that matches could be won in the last ball,” said Tamatta, who added that players were dreaming of playing the ODI World Cup.

“All the players are dreaming of playing the World Cup. Even senior players who have been playing for last 15 or 16 years are also dreaming about it after featuring in the T20 World Cup in 2014,” said Tamatta. Nepal have faced Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Scotland in the past but they will be playing against Zimbabwe for the first time. And skipper Khadka was optimistic that his side could record victory against the Test nation.

“We are excited about the match against Zimbabwe. Actually, we defeated Zimbabwe in ICC U-19 World Cup in 2008 under my captaincy. And once again, we have an opportunity to play their senior team. We will try to win the match for the nation,” added Khadka.

However, both skipper Khadka and coach Tamatta lamented for not getting enough time for the qualifiers after the Division-II event. “We could have prepared well if we had 15 or 20 days,” said Tamatta, who added that players will be decided after warm-up matches against UAE on February 27 and Hong Kong on March 1.

PM Oli honours cricketers

KATHMANDU: Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli today honoured members of the Nepali cricket team with cash for taking berth in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers to be hosted by Zimbabwe from March 4-25. PM Oli, who had announced the reward on Monday, handed over Rs 300,000 each to 14 cricketers — skipper Paras Khadka, Gyanendra Malla, Shakti Gauchan, Basant Regmi, Sharad Vesawkar, Sompal Kami, Karan KC, Arif Sheikh, Sandeep Lamichhane, Dipendra Singh Airee, Dilip Nath, Lalit Bhandari, Anil Kumar Sah and Rohit Kumar Paudel.

Similarly, Oli handed over Rs 150,000 each to coach Jagat Tamatta, team manager Raman Shiwakoti and physiotherapist Dinesh Bhatta. PM Oli also bade farewell to the team for Qualifiers. Nepali team is leaving for Zimbabwe on Saturday. Meanwhile, Madan Bhandari Sports Academy handed over Rs 100,000 each to the members of the team. Nepal finished runners-up to the United Arab Emirates in the ICC World Cricket League Division-II in Namibia after taking berth in the qualifiers. — HNS