By Sushil Thapa, Fairfax, VA
The national cricket team of Nepal is eagerly looking forward to start off the New Year with a bang. They are all set to compete in the ICC World Cup qualifier in New Zealand, hoping to clinch one of the two spots for the final round.
Having achieved unprecedented success in 2013, our cricketers hope to carry momentum into New Zealand. The way the team is shaping up and performing lately, we have every reason to be optimistic.
Team Nepal will be thrust once again into the limelight when the tournament kick starts. They will be eying yet another milestone. Can they do it again? Why not? It’s doable no doubt. I strongly believe they stand a very good chance at making history.
I reckon I am being overly optimistic. I feel that way and hopefully I am right. They face familiar opponents and are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They have to do what it takes to prevail over them.
Twenty-first in the ICC World Rankings, Nepal will be hoping to make its maiden appearance in the 2015 ICC World Cup. Undoubtedly, they are in a tough group and must perform to their potential to make an impact in the competition.
Although they are the lowest ranked team in Group B along with Scotland, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and Canada, they have momentum on their side.
That said, the question is, can they keep up with their incredible performance. Of course, the momentum factor is important to keep them moving in the right direction but does not necessarily ensure success.
Ultimately, it comes down to consistency, and performance is what matters most at the end of the day. Every tournament is a new challenge for any team. It starts from the scratch and requires a concerted team effort and spirit all the way to the end.
Besides, players must demonstrate a desire for excellence and a high level of confidence, commitment and maturity, coupled with discipline.
Team Nepal start the tournament against a tricky and stubborn opposition in the United Arab Emirates. The two have developed a fierce rivalry, over the years. For sure they are a formidable side and looking forward to rewrite history
Forgetting not that the UAE are ranked 17th and made their first ICC World Cup appearance in 1996.
As for Nepal, the opener is of utmost importance and must get off to a winning start. Then they take on two very experienced teams in Canada (ranked 16th) and Scotland (ranked 14th). Canada has played in the World Cup four times, while Scotland two times.
The last team in the group Hong Kong ranked 20th begins its quest to qualify for its first ever first World Cup as well. They are no pushovers certainly.
Unlike the fast and furious nature of Twenty/20, the traditional limited 50 over format is a different ball game. Be it the bowling or the batting, Nepal is most likely to be tested in more ways than one.
It is fair to say that Team Nepal’s preparation and build up to the competition has been excellent. They also have had ample time for practice matches in Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
Experienced coach Dasanayake must have re-worked the team’s approach, tactic going into the tournament. His strategy should be to make maximum use of opponents’ weaknesses and plan the game accordingly.
Despite everything, there is still plenty of room for improvement. The team’s recent setbacks in warm- up matches have set the alarm bells ringing. Both players and coaches need to work very hard on their grey areas.
They have to realize that it is going to be a tough challenge. This is the moment for players to rise, shine and give every bit of what they have. They have to show plenty of battling qualities, grit, determination, and tenacity to succeed. Let us hope they come through with flying colors.