For many Nepali fans the battle between Nepal and PNG today will be a fight between Uso-brothers-both coming to tournaments as underdogs but now threatening the top associates team. Nepali fans have a soft spot for PNG, a team with similar stature and were found cheering for them when PNG took apart Ireland and the Netherlands in the tournament.
Undisputed champions of East Asia Pacific, PNG is a division 2 team in WCL Championships.Having defeated PNG in the earlier edition of the tournament many thought, before the tournament started, PNG would be easy opponent. But the way the things have gone PNG is probably one of the toughest the team to beat in the tournament. It has not been just giving tough times to top associates its beating them comprehensively(defeated The Netherland, Kenya and Ireland). They did lose the previous match however a tad bit of credit went to the “unfair” looking target set by D/L method.
PNG is currently at the top of the group B table with two wins and a loss and Nepal is only behind PNG in net run rate and on second position. Today’s match will not just determine who ends top of the table today but also give the winner nearly ensured entry to play offs.
Nepal lost to Scotland yesterday however Nepali fast bowlers will take a lot of heart from yesterday’s match. Amrit and Jitendra who had been fluttering in the death overs were hitting the block hole with ease. Amrit was also very impressive in his early overs.
Likely Changes- Sagar Pun was expensive against Kenya and Scotland and his batting is not looking to cause any problems to the opponent either. Airee could be brought back into the team. The fast bowlers must have given the coach and captain a lot of confidence and Nepal will go with 2 seamers and 2 spinners. Paras will mix up his four overs with spin and medium pace.
The senior side of Nepal and PNG has meet thrice once in 2004 in ICC World Cup Qualifying series and twice in the previous edition of this tournament. In 2004 PNG which was considered very strong then, comprehensively defeated Nepal by 70 runs! PNG retains Mahuru Dai and Chris Amini from that squad.
In last year’s tournament Nepal first lost to PNG by 35 runs in the group stages but then avenged that loss in the 7th place play offs winning by 6 wickets. Paras Khadka scored a match winning 65 of 43 balls to take the team to victory.
Nepal and PNG have played each other as many as 6 times at U19 level. PNG played Asian Tournaments before the East Asia Pacific Region was initiated and the U19 teams met twice in ACC Trophy (both won by PNG). They have met 3 times in U19 World Cup, first on 2002 where Nepal defeated PNG for the first time by 65 runs. Nepal retains Shakti Gauchan from 2002 squad, Chris Amini played that match for PNG.
The U19 sides last met in the U19 World Cup 2012, where PNG lost to Nepal by 8 wickets. Players of current Nepali squad Subash Khakurel, Sagar Pun, Pradeep Airee, Rahul Viswakarma, Avinash Karn from Nepal and N Vanua, CJA Amini and CN Kent played that match.
ICC T20 Qualifier 2012-8th losing to Nepal for the 7th place play offs
ICC T20 Qualifier 2013 Qualification – Finished first on ICC ICC East Asia-Pacific Twenty20 Championship 2012/13 defeating Vanuatu in the final by 38 runs.
The players in the PNG squad have played together for a long time, strengthened by addition of former member of Ashes winning English squad Garient Jones. Their batting has been the highlight of the tournament so far. The bowling is perfect blend of fast bowling and spinners. Charles Amini who is a excellent leg spinner will gives that X-factor to their team.
Chris Amini (captain), Charles Amini, Mahuru Dai, Willie Gavera, Andrew Hicks, Geraint Jones, Chris Kent, Van Vagi Morea, Kila Pala, Pipi Raho, John Reva, Assad Vala, Norman Vanua, Jack Vare , Tony Ura
Players to Watch Out
Tony Ura is the leading run scorer in the tournament with 181 runs from 3 matches, including a match winning century against the Netherlands and 56 against Afghanistan. He also scored a valueable 25 againt Ireland in the warm up matches. However he hadn’t had a great time with the bat in ICC East Asia-Pacific Twenty20 Championship 2012/13 with just 100 runs in 7 matches.
Asad Vala opening batsman is considered one of the deadliest strikers of the ball. He scored 395 runs in ICC East Asia Pacific Championships incluing an unbeaten 157. He got 21, 20, 28 in the previous 3 matches and he is due to fire today.
Geraint Jones, who was the highest run scorer for PNG in previous years edition of the tournament and Kila Pala also look in great touch. Jones scored a match winning 44 against Kenya as PNG chased 175 in their first game.
Charles Amini and Chris Amini will have important roles with ball for PNG. Charles with his leg break can cause some trouble in Nepali line up. Chris captaining the side took 3 wicket against Nepal in the 7th place play offs.
Willie Gavera is the premier fast bowler of PNG was the highest wicket taker for PNG in the East Asia Pacific Championships with 11 wickets. His pace is sure to be unsettling some of Nepali batsman.
Amrit Bhattarai with his over the wicket in swingers early on could cause some serious problem early on. Its also an opportunity for Amrit to get have his lost form and confidence. Today’s match could turn Bhattarai into his miserable best.
Subash Khakurel’s is establishing himself at top associate level as fearless batsman. His early blows will be pivotal in today’s match. Subash Khakurel has half century to his name against U19 PNG side.