KATHMANDU, Aug 12: Nepal will start its U-19 Cricket World Cup campaign on Monday as it takes on the host Australia in Townsville. It is Nepal´s sixth participation in the U-19 World Cup.
Nepal is slated in group A of the tournament that kicked off on Saturday in Townsville. Nepali U-19 team, captained by Prithu Baskota and coached by Pubudu Dassanayake, faces uphill challenge this time as the group includes England and Ireland alongside the defending champion Australia.
Australia, which hopes to retain the title, started the tournament with a victory, defeating England by six wickets on Saturday.
On the other side, Nepal, which failed to qualify for the 2010 edition of the U-19 World Cup, has a target of retaining its ´giant killer´ tag.
Nepal had reached the super league round in 2000 edition. However, Nepal´s best performance is considered to be the Plate Championship trophy it had won in 2006 in Sri Lanka, defeating New Zealand.
In 2002 and 2008, Nepal lost the Plate Championship finals to Zimbabwe and the West Indies respectively.
Nepal´s major concern for the Monday´s match would be the fitness of its captain Prithu Baskota, who sustained injury during a warm-up match against Papua New Guinea on Tuesday.
On the other side, the current form of Nepali batsmen Naresh Budhayair, Subash Khakurel and Hasim Ansari is consoling for the Nepali team. Budhayair scored 114 runs against New Zealand on Wednesday in a warm-up match while opener Khakurel completed half centuries in both the warm-up matches. Ansari scored 81 runs against PNG on Tuesday.
However, another opener Pradeep Airee failed in both the warm-up matches raising alarms to Nepali side while inconsistent bowling of Nepal is another alarming issue.
The Australia side includes South Australia´s top order batsman Travis Head, who played all his four first-class matches this season and scored 219 runs, and New South Wales´ middle-order batsman Kurtis Patterson, who scored a smashing 157 against South Australia in his debut at the SCG in November last year.
Nepal and Australia have met twice in the U-19 World Cup history and Nepal lost both the matches. Nepal had suffered a 6-wicket loss against Australia in the plate championship round in the 2004 in Bangladesh. Likewise, Australia had had crushed Nepal by 96 runs in the group stage of 2008 edition of the U-19 World Cup held in Malaysia.
U-19 World Cup, Australia Nepal Vs Australia Monday, 5:15 am (NST) TV Live on: Star Cricket