Kenya face Nepal in the ICC World Cricket League

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Mar 11, 2017

The national cricket team has played before smaller crowds some of which are less than 300.

When Kenya hosted Hong Kong in the ICC World Cricket League match last year, the number was slightly higher than that if not the same.

One could see how this crowd cheered or jeered.

For top cricket countries like India, Australia and England the players are used to huge crowds at an early age. By the time they put on the national team colours they are used to the pressure that comes with having thousands people watching you in action.

While other countries outside test cricket have failed to attract huge crowds to their international cricket matches, Nepal is the only team among the associates that have been able to have a huge crowd watching cricket.

Two years ago, over 20,000 people turned out to support the home team playing their final match of the ACC Twenty20 Cup against three-time defending champions Afghanistan.

This was the trend in the group matches and in the other matches. When they last played Namibia in the ongoing WCLC, around the same number turned out.

The same is expected on Saturday when Kenya plays Nepal in the sixth round of the WCLC at the Tribhuvan University International Cricket Ground.

Apart from a couple of players who have played in the World Cup, it will be the first time some of the players will be coming up in front of a huge crowd.

Sources told Sports News Arena that Nepal cricket officials expects a huge crowd and that’s why they have only sold 15,000 tickets due to security reasons.

They fear crowd trouble in case the results don’t go their way as it happened in a match between Nepal and the USA in which was marred by serious crowd trouble.

Nepal and Kenya are hoping to put their experience during recent tours of India to secure maximum points.

Nepal played three matches in New Delhi

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.

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.

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.

Good preparations

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.