Nepal will face a stiff challenge when they meet in-form Scotland in their second match of the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifiers at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo on Thursday.
Nepal, who had begun the tournament with a 116-run defeat against Zimbabwe in their opening round match at the same venue on Sunday, would look to bounce back to keep alive their hopes of reaching the Super Six stage. With the clash against another new Test entrants Afghanistan next on March 10, Nepal will be under immense pressure to deliver.
The Scots have been in a supreme form in this tournament having cruised past pre-tournament favourites Afghanistan and Hong Kong in their first two matches. Following the drubbing from Zimbabwe, Nepal will head into the match as clear underdogs. Nepal have never beatn the Scots in their previous three clashes.
Nepal first met Scotland in the 2014 Qualifiers in New Zealand where they were folded for just 159 in a chase of 250 runs in 50 overs. They were close to beating Scotland at their home but fell three runs short while chasing 236 runs in the first leg of the ICC World Cricket League Championship in 2014. They then crushed Nepal by nine wickets in the second leg.
According to The Kathmandu Post, Nepal skipper Paras Khadka said his team has no other options than to win. “We have to play really well in all departments. At this level we cannot expect to get good result by focusing on one department. We have to cover all bases. Scotland have been playing really well and we need to bring our best game,” Khadka said from Bulawayo.
Nepal bowlers, especially seamers, were brutally hit by Zimbabwe batsmen as they went on to concede the biggest total of 380-6 from 50 overs. Khadka was hit for 57 runs in five overs and another fast bowler Sompal Kami bled 82 runs in eight overs. Khadka hoped the fast bowling department fare well on Thursday.
“We had a day off (against Zimbabwe) as a bowling unit and they batted really well. So both things happened at the same time. We need to make a better comeback. We need to put pressure on them (Scotland batsmen) to go for big shots and not let them settle down with singles and doubles,” added Khadka.
Scotland top order is led by their experienced captain Kyle Coetzer, who has hit four international centuries in 45 one-dayers, while Callum MacLeod looked ominous scoring 157 unbeaten runs against Afghanistan in their chase of 256 runs. MacLeod has so far played 52 ODIs and has 175 as his highest score which he had made in the previous Qualifiers against Canada.
Apart from Coetzer and MacLeod, Nepal would have a long and experienced batting lineup to cope with including Matthew Cross, Richie Berrington and George Munsey who all have experience of playing First Class cricket. Scotland had also bundled out Hong Kong for a paltry 91 and that will leave Nepali batsmen a tough ask of scoring against their disciplined bowling.
The onus lies on Nepal’s opening pair of Dilip Nath and Gyanendra Malla which has continuously failed to give big a desired starts. Khadka said he would back his players. “We are batting well but will need to convert the starts that we are getting to make further difference in the tournament,” said Khadka. In their first ever meeting against a Test side, which came against Zimbabwe in the first match on Sunday, Nepal had managed to reach 264 from 50 overs after half century from Sharad Vesawkar and Aarif Sheikh. The Nepali camp would just look to up their game as a batting unit.