Picture:Â The Nepali national womenâ€™s cricket team members with officials during a farewell programme, ahead of their departure to Thailand for the ACC Womenâ€™s Asia Cup, in Kathmandu on Wednesday.
ACC Womenâ€™s Asia Cup
November 24, 2016:Nepal left for Bangkok on Wednesday eyeing upset wins over Test-giants in the ACC Womenâ€™s Asia Cup as they return to the biggest stage of their playing career.
Asia Cup is the biggest event that Nepali women get to participate where they will contest against Test-playing nations India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh along with fellow Associates Thailand in November 26 to December 4 tournament. They had previously participated in the 2012 edition held in China, where they didnâ€™t have to go through qualifying process.
But with new rules, Nepal needed to finish second in the recently concluded ICC Womenâ€™s World Cup Qualifying Series for Asia Region to get them back in the tournament. Nepal coach Raju Basnyat wants his side to make the most of the participation. â€œIts a big tournament that we are going for and considering the way how we fared in our previous tournament (Qualifying Series), I firmly believe that our girls are capable of upsetting big teams,â€ said Basnyat.
Nepal, who had previously lost to China in two different meetings, managed to beat their neighbours twice and narrowly lost to Thailand (twice) and Hong Kong in the Qualifying Series held in Hong Kong. Basnyat knows Nepali women have learnt a lot about their potentials.
â€œAlthough we lost three matches in the Qualifying Series, the girls are aware of their potential. I believe that our level is way beyond the Qualifying Series and its time for us to prove it,â€ the coach added. Nepal will open their campaign with the match against Pakistan on the inaugural day.
They next play Sri Lanka on November 28, Bangladesh on 29 and Thailand on December 1 before wrapping up the round robin league with a match against defending champions India on December 2. The top two teams from the round robin league will clash in the final.
Nepal will be without their key allrounder Nirmala Shahi, who has picked up a groin injury and will be replaced by Shobha Ale. Rest of the players from the Qualifying Series squad were retained. Basnyat said the services of Shahi will be missed. â€œShe (Shahi) was crucial in our second-place finish in Qualifying Series. She had ended up as Nepalâ€™s second highest run scorer and wicket-taker. She has left a void that is hard to fill but we have to make sure that we do even better without her,â€ said the coach.
Having already set an ambitious target of upsetting giants, Basnyat was confident that their losing spree against Thailand will come to an end. â€œWe have not been able to beat Thailand in womenâ€™s cricket in the last eight years but things are going to change this time around. The girls know that they have the potential to overcome Thailand challenge,â€ assured Basnyat.
Rubina Chhetri (capt), Jyoti Pandey (wk), Nary Thapa Magar, Sarita Thapa Magar, Sita Rana Magar, Indu Verma, Saraswoti Chaudhary, Kajol Shrestha, Sabnam Rai, Sangita Rai, Karuna Bhandari, Rashmi Chaulagain, Roshani Bohora, Neera Rajopadhyaya
Nov 26Â Â Â vsÂ Â Â Â Pakistan
Nov 28Â Â Â vsÂ Â Â Â Sri Lanka
Nov 29Â Â Â vsÂ Â Â Â Bangladesh
Dec 1Â Â Â vsÂ Â Â Â Thailand
Dec 2Â Â Â vsÂ Â Â Â India