Kathmandu, March 13, 2017: Nepal are in a desperate need of victory against the fallen Associate giants Kenya as the two teams clash for the second time on Monday during their ICC World Cricket League Championship (WCLC) fifth round match at the TU Stadium.
After losing the rain-marred first match by five wickets to Kenya on Saturday, the hosts are rooted at sixth place in the eight-team standings with six points. On the contrary, victory can propel Kenya, once considered the strongest ICC Associate members, to second from fifth. Kenya have played World Cup five times and reaching the semi-finals once in 2003.
But since they have lost their ODI and Twenty20 status in 2014 after failure to qualify for the 2015 World Cup and 2014 Twenty20 World Cup.
The WCLC is the gateway to 2019 50-over World Cup with top tour teams to earn berths for the Qualifiers in 2018. Rest of the four teams will be relegated to Division 2. Nepal and Kenya, in fact, were drafted in for the WCLC late on after Ireland and Afghanistan were made eligible for the 2019 World Cup directly via ODI ranking.
Despite the regular Nepal skipper Paras Khadka considering Kenya at par with Nepal in terms of cricketing potentials of late, Nepal have lost all three 50-over contest against the opponents, the last of the series coming on Saturday. Nepal had suffered the other two defeats with the team during their ICC World Cricket League Division 2 games in Namibia in 2015.
Gyanendra Malla appears set to lead the home team in the second match too as chances of Khadka making it to the playing XI looks extremely bleak. Khadka, who sat out of the first match on Saturday, is recovering from a surgery that he underwent in mid-February after being diagnosed with “recurrent appendicitis with intestinal obstruction.” No official announcement, however, has been made of Khadka’s status for the game.
Malla believes that they need to improve on their batting to have any chance of defeating the tourists. Speaking after the first match, Malla who is eyeing to convert good starts into big knocks, said: “We need to step up our batting.” The stand-in Nepal skipper is anticipating a tight contest given the weather doesn’t hinder the game again.
Nepal will once again rely heavily on their spinners on Monday. Nepal deployed four spinners with Sagar Pun, Sandeep Lamichhane and Basanta Regmi claiming all five Kenyan wickets to fall on Saturday.
Nepal are likely to go with the same squad except for allrounder Mehboob Alam. Aarif Sheikh is in like replace the veteran allround, who could not make any significant contribution with the bat. He was also not required to bowl considering the nature of the pitch.
Nepal will play Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates after Kenya fixtures.
Teams M W L NR Pts NRR
Netherlands 10 7 1 2 16 +1.270
PNG 8 6 2 0 12 +0.037
Hong Kong 10 5 4 1 11 +0.996
Scotland 8 4 1 3 11 +0.245
Kenya 9 5 4 0 10 +0.051
Nepal 9 3 6 0 6 -0.501
Namibia 8 1 7 0 2 -0.507
UAE 8 1 7 0 2 -1.319