KATHMANDU, Feb 15: Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) on Wednesday announced a 14-member squad, including two new faces, for the upcoming ICC T20 Qualifiers to be held in the UAE in March.
Krishna Karki and Chandra Saud have been included in the national team for the first time while Paresh Lohani and Shakti Gauchan have been recalled in the squad.
The selection was based on the performance of the players during their recent Mumbai tour. The national team visited Mumbai for nine practice matches, out of which which it won seven and faced defeat in two matches. The 18-member squad arrived in Kathmandu on Tuesday.
Lohani had earlier withdrawn his name from the national team for the Pepsi World Cricket League Division 5 held in Kathmandu in February 2010 citing personal reasons. Lohani did not feature in the national team ever since. Gauchan was dropped from the national squad during the 16th Asian Games 2010, Guangzhou, and ACC T20 Cup held in Kathmandu last December.
Meanwhile, Karki was the key player of the Nepali U-19 team as he guided Nepal to the final of the ACC U-19 Elite Cup and also fixed Nepal´s place in the ICC U-19 World Cup. Saud had participated in the 11th South Asian Games representing the U-21 squad.
Karki said he is happy to be included in the squad. "From the day I started to play cricket, my main mission was to be in the national squad, which has been fulfilled today. To keep one´s place in the national squad is tough and also challenging."
Binod Bhandari, Subash Khakurel, Avinash Karna and Rahul BK have been dropped from the squad. Bhandari was a regular member of the national side while Khakurel was called at the eleventh hour during Nepal´s last international match held in December. Khakurel featured in the ACC T20 tournament held in Kathmandu in place of Mahesh Chhetri. BK has been dropped for the first time.
Paras Khadka will lead the squad consisting Gyanendra Malla, Sharad Vesawakar, Prithu Baskota, Mehboob Alam, Anil Kumar Mandal, Sanjam Regmi, Amrit Bhattarai, Basanta Regmi, and Pradeep Airee.
Airee is expected to take the responsibility of the wicket keeper as the regular keeper Khakurel and part-time keeper Bhandari were dropped from the squad.
Nepal is placed in Group A in the qualifiers and starts against Hong Kong on March 13. Nepal will face Denmark on 14th, Papua New Guinea on 15th, Afghanistan on 16th, Bermuda on 18th, the Netherlands on 19th and Canada on 20th of March. Top four teams will qualify for the ICC T20 World Cup.
CAN snubs selection committee
While the squad has already been announced, chief selector Bijay Sharma has said that he was not aware of the players´ selection. Coach Pubudu Dassanayake said the deadline to send the names of the players for the tournament was February 11 and CAN had asked his opinion on the players and his choices.
As per the request, I sent the names of the players for the national side. I don´t know they went through to the selectors or not, he said. The coach said the team is good and he is happy with the 14 names. "Lohani, Saud and Karki had performed well during the Mumbai tour and Saud has pace."
A source said that the contract of selectors expired two months ago and it was renewed only for the U-19 women´s championship. A new selection committee has not yet been formed.
The source added that the existing committee is treated with prejudice by the CAN board because it was formed by the previous board. "We cannot expect anything from the newly elected CAN board as it has selected players for the national side without consulting the selectors."
Nepali umpire in Division 5
Nepali Umpire Durga Nath Subedi left for Singapore on Wednesday to umpire in the World Cricket League Division 5. Subedi will umpire the matches of the host Singapore, Argentina, Guernsey, Bahrain, Cayman Islands and Malaysia. Earlier, the 35-year-old Subedi umpired in the final match of Division 6 between Malaysia and Guernsey and other matches.