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Nepal, Kenya eye crucial wins

Nepal and Kenya are hoping to put their experience during recent tours of India to best use as they look to garner maximum points in the upcoming ICC World Cricket League matches in TU Cricket Stadium, Kathmandu on 11 and 13 March.

Nepal recently played three matches in New Delhi while Kenya played four matches in the western Indian city of Vadodara in preparation for their WCL fixtures, hoping to remain in contention for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018.

The top four sides from among the eight sides will make it to the Qualifier, which will also feature the four bottom sides from the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings as on 30 September 2017 and two top sides from the WCL Division 2.

The Netherlands is presently at the top of the points table with 16 points from 10 matches while Papua New Guinea is in second position with 12 points from eight matches. Hong Kong and Scotland are both on 11 points from 10 and eight matches, respectively.

Nepal captain Paras Khadka says his team is out to get maximum points in its remaining six matches of the championship, which gives each team 14 matches to play.

“We toured New Delhi for three practice matches and have also been training at home. We understand that all matches will be very important for us now since we only have three rounds remaining and every point will be crucial in relation to the final standings. We can’t lose points if we want to make it to the top four,” Khadka said.

“Kenya is a good team with an experienced bunch of cricketers, but we have always played well as a unit and with great team spirit. Our spinners are our most important asset,” he added about his slow bowling attack, which includes 16-year-old leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane, who was invited last year by former Australia captain Michael Clarke to represent his Sydney-based club Western Suburbs.

“We would definitely have liked to be higher in the points table but all is not lost and this makes the upcoming two games very essential to finish in the top-four,” says Rakep Patel, the Kenya captain. “We would definitely have liked to be higher in the points table but all is not lost and this makes the upcoming two games very essential to finish in the top-four,” says Rakep Patel, the Kenya captain.

Nepal currently has six points from eight matches which includes a 2-0 victory over Namibia and a 1-1 draw with the Netherlands. Nepal lost all its matches against PNG and Scotland while it will play Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates after the matches against Kenya.

Kenya is slightly better off with eight points from four matches. It defeated Namibia 2-0, drew 1-1 with both Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates while losing both its matches to Papua New Guinea. After Nepal, Kenya is due to play Scotland and table-leader Netherlands.

Kenya captain Rakep Patel says his team has prepared well for the conditions expected at the Tribhuvan University ground.

“We have tried our best to replicate the conditions we would face there in Nepal by having four games against various sides in Baroda. Acclimatizing to the conditions is essential and nothing beats match practice as the conditions will be very similar in Nepal.

“We would definitely have liked to be higher in the points table but all is not lost and this makes the upcoming two games very essential to finish in the top-four, which is our desired goal. The main objective, however clichéd, is to win. Not only will it help us climb the points table but will give the young side much needed confidence for the future. There’s a lot riding on these games for us.”

Patel picked all-rounders Collins Obuya and Nehemiah Odhiambo and batsmen Irfan Karim and Alex Obanda as the players to watch in his team. He named rookie leg-spinner Pushpak Kerai as a surprise commodity and as a back-up for left-arm spinner Shem Nogech, since he expects spinner-friendly pitches for the two matches.

The squads:
Nepal: Paras Khadka (captain), Dipendra Airee, Mahaboob Alam, Binod Bhandari, Sunil Dhamala, Shakti Gauchan, Sompal Kami, Karan KC, Sandeep Lamichhane, Gyanendra Malla, Sagar Pun, Basant Regini, Aarif Sheikh, Sharad Vesawkar,

Kenya: Rakep Patel (captain), Dhiren Gondaria, Irfan Karim, Karan Kaul, Pushpak Kerai, Shem Ngoche, Alex Obanda, Collins Obuya, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Nelson Odhiambo, Lucas Oluoch, Elijah Otieno, Rushabhvardhan Patel, Gurdeep Singh.

Match officials
Umpires: Sarika Prasad and Vinay Jha; Third umpire: Durga Nath Subedi
Match referee: Dev Govindjee

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