Kathmandu/Cricnepal: After hosting the ACC U-16 Elite Cup 2012, Malaysia is on its way to host the ACC U-19 Asia Cup 2012 in the same cricket pitches (Bayuemas Oval, Kinrara Oval, Royal Selangor Club, and Selangor Turf Club) where it successfully conducted the U-16 Elite cup. The U-19 Asia Cup is going to be held in Malaysia from 23rd June to 1st July 2012. ACC has already released the Group Divisions for the U-19 Asia Cup.
Nepal is placed in Group ‘A’ along with the two times U-19 world cup champions India and Pakistan. Malaysia is also in this group. Similarly, Group B includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Qatar, and Sri Lanka.
It is thought that it might be difficult for Nepal in this group together with India and Pakistan. But the reality is that the Nepali U-19 team has boosted up its performance in recent years. Most recently Nepali U-19 team participated in ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier in August 2011 in Ireland. Nepal secured 2nd position in that tournament and qualified for the 2012 U-19 World Cup in Australia. If we see the history in an International context then the Nepali U-19 team has been termed as “Giant Killers” for its victory against the ODI recognized nations like South Africa, New Zealand, Pakistan, and Kenya. The Nepali team has also become victorious against Ireland, Papua and New Guinea, and Namibia. Out of eight U-19 world cup conducted so far, Nepal has participated in five, winning the Plate Championship in 2006 by defeating New Zealand by one wicket.
The other opponents in the group are competitive. Indian Under-19 cricket team is two times world champion and recently it had won the quadrangular U-19 series by defeating Australia. On the other hand, the Pakistan Under-19 cricket team is also twice (2004 and 2006) Cricket World Champions at the under-19 level . Recently, they played against South Africa. The Under 19 cricket team of Malaysia participated in ACC Under-19 Elite Cup 2009 and secured 5th position. The Malaysian team was defeated by Nepal then.
The team under the leadership of Prithu Baskota is a dynamic squad that includes class batsmen like Subash Khakurel, Naresh Budhayer, Sagar Pun, and quality bowlers like Rahul Vishwakarma, Nishchal Pandey, and Krishna Karki. CAN has already declared 24 initial players for the Asia Cup 2012 training and is launching training season for the players from 14th May Monday.
Pratik Gyawali for Cricnepal