Kathmandu, August 9:

The Under-19 cricket team today left for Sri Lanka ahead of the ACC U-19 Elite Cup to be held in Malaysia from August 18-29.

Nepal will play three practice matches against the Sri Lanka U-19 team. During the week-long tour sponsored by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), Nepal will play at Premadasa Stadium (August 12 and August 16) and Moors ground (August 14). According to Bandula Warnapura, Director, Cricket Operations at the SLC, the Nepali team will also have nets practice at the Fingara Colts grounds.

Acting member secretary of National Sports Council (NSC) Raju Shrestha, Sri Lankan Ambassador to Nepal Sumith Nakandala and President of the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) Binay Raj Pandey bade farewell to the team.

“The boys have not been able to play regular cricket here due to the unfavourable weather and the tour will help them,” said Pandey. “We are the running champions for the last three years and I hope these players will also do well in the tournament,” he added.

Ambassador Nakandala said the tour will give necessary exposure to the Nepali squad. “Sri Lanka is in a better position to help Nepali cricket and this tour is a part of the 50 years celebration of the Nepal-Sri Lanka diplomatic relations,” he said adding, “It would be our dream to see Nepal getting the Test status.”

The three-time defending champions Nepal are in Group A and will play Singapore on August 20, before taking on UAE (August 22), Thailand (August 23) and Oman (August 25).

The Group B comprises of hosts Malaysia, Hong Kong, Qatar, Kuwait and Afghanistan.

SQUAD: Paras Khadka (captain), Sharad Vesawkar (vice captain), Raj Shrestha, Gyanendra Malla, Amrit Bhattarai, Avay Rana, Shashi Keshari, Mahesh Chhetry, Rom Shrestha, Sagar Khadka, Antim Thapa, Chandra Saud, Akash Gupta and Rahul Kumar BK; Upendra Bhattarai (manager), Roy Dias (coach), Jagat Tamata (assistant coach).