With a place at the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 at stake, Nepal are taking on Asian archrivals Hong Kong in their fourth Group ‘A’ match of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers in Belfast on Wednesday.
Nepal currently sit at the fourth spot in group standings and a defeat against Hong Kong, who have often been tough opponents for them, can make their road tougher. To remain in hunt for the World Twenty20, Nepal at least need to finish fourth in a tough pool where Ireland have already surged ahead as the team that will qualify as group winners.
The two group winners will directly qualify for the 2016 World Twenty20 with chances open for the second, third and fourth-placed teams. Papua New Guinea, up next for Nepal after Hong Kong, Namibia and Nepal have three points apiece but the former stay second with better run rate and having played one game less. Nepal and Namibia have already played three games each.
Jersey are fifth in the table with two points from two games having stunned Hong Kong in their Qualifiers debut. After their match against PNG was washed out, Hong Kong (two pts from two games) still have a game to win and they would be raring to defeat Nepal.
Coach Pubudu Dassanayake knows how important the match is for his side. “Hong Kong is a team which relies heavily on few good players but there is no room for complacency,” Dassanayake said on the eve of the match. “Irfan (Ahmed) will be the only big threat for us and we need to handle him,” added the coach.
Hong Kong squad boasts the presence of Ahmed, one of the best all rounders in the Associate cricket, who poses threat to every opponent he faces. Ahmed has been a key tormentor for Nepal who has taken away several matches single handedly with his explosive batting, while a sharp medium pace bowling makes him even lethal.
Nepal have an upper hand against Hong Kong in their head-to-head result winning four out of seven previous appearances. However, they had lost the only possible match of their three-match Twenty20 International Series in Sri Lanka by two wickets in a low-scoring thriller. Dassanayake said his team ended up in conceding a humiliating loss against Ireland on Monday (when they were bundled out for their lowest total of 53) adopting an aggressive approach. He wants his team to play normal cricket now.
“We will just play normal cricket against Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea to make sure that we come up with our best. We had a bad day against Ireland but we will work hard and do well in the rest of the game,” added the coach.
Oman stun Dutch
Oman have marked a memorable day in their cricket history stunning the Netherlands by six wickets in their third Group ‘B’ match of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers in Edinburgh on Tuesday. It was Oman’s first victory against the Dutch, one of the established giants in world cricket who have both 50-over and 20-over World Cups experience. The victory also lifted Oman to third in Group ‘B’ which is led by Afghanistan with seven points from four matches. Oman have four points – one behind Kenya. In another Group ‘B’ game, UAE defeated Canada by five wickets for their first victory.