The associates’ top tier league, ICC Cricket World Cup League Two is all set to commence at Tribhuvan University Ground from 5th of February as hosts Nepal will welcome the top ranked team USA and fourth ranked Oman from the table. This will be the fifth Trilateral series for the ICC Cricket World Cup League Two which is a road to India in 2023 Cricket World Cup.
Hosts Nepal will be eyeing to start their campaign of ICC Cricket World Cup League Two under the captaincy of Gyanendra Malla. The likes of Sandeep Lamichhane, the young globetrotter leggie and Paras Khadka, one of the top all rounders in the associate region will boast the team morale as they also have an added home advantage where 15 to 20 thousands of fans are set to play a role of 12th man for the tournament openers at TU stadium, Kathmandu.
Analysing the squad, Nepal has a decent and well balanced team to make a solid start to the League 2 campaign. Captain Gyanendra Malla and former captain Paras Khadka are more likely to open the innings while Dipendra Singh Airee and Aarif Sheikh will be two young batsmen to watch out at the middle orders. The experience of Sharad Veshawkar will be Nepal’s key asset in Nepalese batting whilst wicketkeeper Binod Bhandari, the youngest ODI half centurion, Rohit Kumar Paudel, prodigy Kushal Malla will be lending some long-looked-for depth to the batting line-up. On the other hand, Karan KC, the right-arm seamer having reinvented himself as a big-hitting all-rounder will lead Avinash Bohara and Kamal Singh Airee on the seam attack. Also it’s going to be worth watching if Kamal Singh Airee can fit into the shoes of Sompal Kami in his absence. Sandeep Lamichhane who has just returned home playing the Big Bash League will be leading the spin attack who will be joined by canny left arm spinners Sushan Bhari or Lalit Rajbanshi.
Squad: Gyanendra Malla (captain), Dipendra Singh Airee (vice-captain), Paras Khadka, Sandeep Lamichhane, Karan KC, Md. Aarif Sheikh, Binod Bhandari, Avinash Bohara, Kushal Malla, Kamal Singh Airee, Sushan Bhari, Rohit Kumar Paudel, Sharad Vesawkar, Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi
Zeeshan Maqsood’s Oman side are high on confidence after securing qualification for the T20 World Cup at the back end of 2019. With an unchanged squad from previous tournament that faced Namibia and UAE in January, Oman stands fourth on the table with 8 points off 8 matches they have played.
After a remarkable year 2019 for the Red Brigades, where they earned the ODI status and qualified for the T20 World Cup, they have beaten PNG twice, UAE and also have stunned Scotland in the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup Two fixtures. Oman currently holds one of the most intimidating pace attack in Associates cricket with Bilal Khan leading the attack who has already earned himself a global attention with his exemplary inswinging yorkers. Paired with Fayyaz Butt and Kaleemullah with the new ball, the Oman side can build a terror against the opponent sides. The canny left arm spinner Maqsood with Khawar Ali and Mohamad Sanuth can destroy the opponents batting order with their spin attack. Their batting strength comes up with the likes of Sandeep Goud and keeper Suraj Kumar whilst Jatinder Singh and Aaqib Ilyas also look fine in the batting order.
Squad: Zeeshan Maqsood (captain), Aqib Ilyas (vice-captain), Jatinder Singh, Khawar Ali, Sanuth Ebrahim, Suraj Kumar, Muhammed Naseem, Sandeep Goud, Muhammed Nadeem, Jay Odedra, Baadal Singh, Ahmed Fayyaz Butt, Kaleemullah, Bilal Khan, Amir Kaleem, Khurram Nawaz Khan, Gopendra Bohara, Ajay Lalcheta
The next visiting side, USA stays on top of the table with 12 points off 8 matches they have played in the tournament. After a successful recent tour of the UAE, where USA claimed three wins from their four matches (beaten UAE twice and Scotland) and moved to the top of the points table, USA have chosen to name an unchanged 14-men squad for the tour of Nepal. Team USA had been practicing in Mumbai since 24th of January ahead of Nepal tour.
Heading into this contest, the USA captained by Saurabh Netravalkar seem to have a formidable squad with some remarkable performances in CWCL2 campaign. However, the non announcement of a vice captain in such crucial tour might raise some unwanted distraction before the tour Triangular series. It will be important for the USA batsmen to step up and take the responsibility as the USA have mostly relied upon their bowlers to win the match for them. However, with the likes of Aaron Jones, Monank Patel and Steven Taylor their batting looks solid along with young wicketkeeper batsman Akshay Homraj and allrounder Ian Holland who earned their maiden ODI call ups in last December. On the other hand, it’s going to be captain Saurabh Netravalkar himself to take upon a charge in bowling department who has been phenomenal in the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup League Two picking up 12 wickets in 8 matches along with a 5-for against UAE in last December. His consistency with his economy and wickets will be crucial for the USA side as he will be joined by other wicket taking bowlers Stevenson, Gore and Taylor. Bowling has been the major strength for USA side and it will be no wonder if they manage to pull out their matches from opponents with enough guns on their bowling arsenal.
Squad: Saurabh Netravalkar (captain), Steven Taylor, Ian Holland, Akshay Homraj, Elmore Hutchinson, Aaron Jones, Noshthus Konjige, Xavier Marshall, Monank Patel, Nisarg Patel, Timil Patel, Rusty Theron, Cameron Stevenson
What is the fight for?
The ICC Cricket World Cup League Two, in short, ICC CWCL2 is a pathway to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 in India. CWCL 2 consists of seven teams, Namibia, Nepal, Oman, PNG, Scotland, UAE and USA, with each team playing 36 ODIs over two and half years from August 2019 to January 2022. The ICC CWCL2 sees total of 126 ODIs played across 21 tri-series and sits beneath the Men’s CWC Super League. The upcoming Tri-Series to be hosted by Nepal is the 5th round of the 21 rounds of tri-series. After the 21 tri-series have been completed, the three top teams will confirm their place in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2022. The bottom four teams will drop into the Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier Play-Off 2022 – which is a repechage event to the Global Qualifier- and will be joined by the winner of Challenge League A and B. The top two teams from the Play-Off will keep their hopes alive of participating in India 2023, by qualifying for the Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2022.
Players to Watch
Sandeep Lamichhane (Nepal), Paras Khadka (Nepal), Bilal Khan (Oman), Aqib Ilyas (Oman) Steven Taylor (USA), Saurabh Netravalkar (USA)
Wed 5 Feb: Oman v Nepal
Thu 6 Feb: Oman v USA
Sat 8 Feb: USA v Nepal
Sun 9 Feb: Oman v Nepal
Tue 11 Feb: Oman v USA
Wed 12 Feb: USA v Nepal
All the matches will be played at Tribhuvan University Ground, Kirtipur, Kathmandu and Kantipur Television will broadcast all the matches live on TV.