Nepali girls will play Chinese girls in the opening match of the ACC U-19 Women’s Championship in Kuwait on February 3.

According to the provisional fixture published by Asian Cricket Council (ACC), defending champions Nepal faces Malaysia on February 4, UAE on February 5 and Thailand on February 7.

Two-time champions Nepal has been placed in group A.

Despite most of the girls participating in both the victories, including Nary Thapa, have crossed the age bar, the present squad is having many new players, a new coach and a new captain. But, the team is still confident of defending the title.

“Though we have new players in the squad, our bowling is good and the batsmen can bat for full 25 overs,” coach Navin Singh told Republica daily. “We need improvement in fielding as the players have been dropping catches in practice matches.”

Singh guided region no 7 Janakpur for the inaugural National U-19 Women´s Cricket Tournament last month.

Captain Rubina Chhetri, member of the U-19 squad which defended the title last year, said that the current squad is one of the best teams in the U-19. “In the past, our strength was bowling but in this squad our strength is in many departments.”

Chief selector Bijay Kumar Sharma expressed his confidence that the squad will lift the title. “Though the current squad has new players, senior players in the squad are helping new players improve their game.”

Sharma added the squad is somewhat weak in fielding, which may cause trouble for the team. “Due to lack of match experience, players are having trouble in running between the wickets as well.”