-  Wednesday 16 October 2019

Nepal looks to scale heights at U-19

KATHMANDU, Jan 23 - Forget the cliches about mountaineering because Nepal's youngsters are out to put their country on the map for cricketing reasons at next month's ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup in Sri Lanka.
The country that produced Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, the man who scaled Mount Everest in 1953, qualified for this event by cruising to victory in last November's Asian Cricket Council U-19 Cup in its homeland.

And if it can repeat that form in Colombo, it has every chance of progressing to the Super League stage for only the second time in its history.

It last achieved that feat in its first U-19 WC, also in Sri Lanka, in 2000 when a narrow victory over Kenya, combined with rain that washed out all of South Africa's matches, carried it into the second stage.

It was outclassed on that occasion, losing all three of its matches to India, the host and England, but six years on it appears much better prepared for the task in front.

Coached by former Sri Lanka batsman Roy Dias, it has one of the most experienced squads in the tournament, with seven players from the previous U-19 WC in Bangladesh in 2004 (captain Kanishka Chaugai played in 2002 as well), and also has a favorable draw. Nepal has avoided both the host Sri Lanka and tournament favorite India and find itself in Group D, along with England, Zimbabwe and Ireland and it will feel it has a chance of winning all three of those matches.

England arrives off the back of 11 straight losses on a tour of Bangladesh late last year, Zimbabwe has endured recent well-documented internal problems and Ireland, although talented, will be unused to the conditions on offer in Colombo.

The major question mark over Nepal, which reached Sri Lanka two weeks ahead of the tournament to acclimatize, is whether it can lift its game to a new level after it was barely tested in the ACC U-19 Cup.

The ACC win was founded on a well-balanced bowling attack which should stand it in good stead in Sri Lanka. The seam bowling of Bantu Bataju, Amrit Bhattarai and Abhaya Rana terrorized opposition line-ups with Bhattarai taking 13 wickets in the five matches while Bataju captured 5-29 in the final.

Invariably Nepal took wickets with the new ball but it was then able to maintain the pressure thanks to the spin-twins, Shashi Kesari, the leg-break bowler, and off-spinner Ratan Rauniyar.

With the back-up bowlers Paras Khadka, Basanta Regmi and Raj Shrestha also enjoying success, captain Chaugai should have plenty of options when Nepal is in the field. With such an array of successful bowlers, Nepal's batting line-up was never stretched in the ACC U-19 Cup as the largest opposition score against it was Kuwait's 146 in the semifinal.

However, in the one match where it batted first, the quarterfinal against Singapore, it made 223 with Sharad Vesawkar topscoring with 68. Vesawkar will be well known to England's coaching staff as he made 82 against it in Bangladesh in 2004 while Chaugai scored an unbeaten 90 against Papua New Guinea two years ago.  The U-19 World Cup 2006 will take place between February 5 and 19.

Source
Kantipur




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