Kathmandu, March 8, 2017: Skipper Paras Khadka is fighting against time to get himself ready for this week’s ICC World Cricket League Championship matches against Kenya.
Khadka resumed training from Monday following the surgery after he suffered from intestinal obstruction due to recurrent appendicitis two weeks ago but the reliable skipper remains a doubtful starter for the national team’s crucial ties against five-time World Cup finalists Kenya, who stunned the cricketing world by reaching the semi-finals in 2003.
Nepal are slated to host the African nation for the fifth-round matches of the WCL Championship at the Tribhuvan University Stadium on March 11 and 13. Time is running out and coach Jagat Tamatta is still not sure about the availability of skipper Khadka, who has been the backbone of Nepali cricket since taking over in 2009.
“The chance are 50-50 and we cannot say anything at the moment. We have four more days for the match and we are hoping for the best as Khadka has returned to training,” said Tamatta. “He has not been putting in full efforts in training as a precaution and everything will depend on his fitness level,” said Tamatta. However, Tamatta has prepared the strategy if the team needed to go into the field without the skipper. “We have got plans if Khadka is not available for the matches and we hope that the absence of the skipper will not make a huge impact in the team,” he added.
Skipper Khadka was also optimistic of playing the matches against Kenya. “There has been improvement in my health condition and I have been looking one day at a time. We still have a couple of days left and I am preparing accordingly,” said Khadka.
Against all odds, both coach Tamatta and skipper Khadka were confident of beating Kenya and creating history. “As the matches against Kenya are important, we have completed all sorts of preparation accordingly. The tour of India was beneficial in our preparation as we played good games and beat tough teams,” said Tamatta. “The touring side will be under pressure as we will be playing in front of home crowd which has always been supportive for us. The home conditions is also an added advantage for us,” he added.
The past records do not favour Nepal as Kenya have won all three matches in the 50-over format. But skipper Khadka said the current Nepali squad was a balanced one and that the players were in tough competition to feature in the starting eleven for the matches. “As the team was picked up based on the performance of the players, all of them are impressive and raring to go into the match,” said Khadka.
The fifth-round matches against Kenya are crucial for both the teams in their bid to finish in top four, who will earn berths in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers for 2019. Currently Nepal are sixth with six points, one place and two points behind Kenya. The Netherlands are at the top of the eight-team table with 16 points from 10 matches, while Papua New Guinea (12), Hong Kong (11) and Scotland (11) are second to fourth respectively. Namibia and the UAE are seventh and eighth with two points each.
By Sanjeev Kumar Shah