Nepal’s predicted squad for the Asia Cup: Best XI, combinations and more

Nepal will begin the hybrid model Asia Cup in Pakistan and Sri Lanka with the tag of the biggest underdog as they are the only non-test playing nation of this tournament.

However that doesn’t mean Nepal will be going into the Asia Cup without the hope of pulling a major upset or two. Nepal has been growing as an ODI side, which means there were a few options available to choose from for their Line-up.

Nepal's Asia Cup Squad

Rohit Paudel (c), Kushal Bhurtel,Aasif Sheikh, Gyanendra Malla, Kushal Malla, Aarif Sheikh, Sompal Kami, Dipendra Singh Airee, Gulshan Jha, Karan KC, Sandeep Lamichhane, Bhim Sharki, Pratish GC, Lalit Rajbanshi, Kishore Mahato, Mousom Dhakal, Arjun Saud.

Batters

The mountain-men have a decent balance of youth and experience in their batting lineup, which should serve them well. Inform Kushal Bhurtel and wicket-keeper Aasif Sheikh form a decent opening pair.

Aarif Sheikh and Dipendra Singh will form the middle-order backbone and much will be expected of the pair. Gyanendra Malla will bring the much needed experience to this relatively young squad.

Fans and management have big expectations from 21 year-old batter Bhim Sharki, but this tournament may come too early for him to make a serious impact.

All-rounders

The small nation is blessed with options in this department and has some seriously good young prospects who show signs of a bright future. Young 20 year-old captain Rohit Paudel is their beacon of hope and middle order mainstay. Ku

shal Malla the 19 year-old is a promising left-hander who has shown great potential as a top-order batter. Another teenager Pratish GC will bring the variety as the seam bowling all-rounder. The other pace bowling all-rounder is the experienced campaigner Karan KC.

Bowlers

Nepal have some exceptional bowlers, who will have to perform well out of their skin if Nepal are to pull off any upsets. They will be spearheaded by the one true superstar of their cricket, Sandip Lamichane.

The wrist-spinner already is a household name in franchise cricket and he will look to spearhead this attack with his marvelous wicket taking ability. Fellow spinner Lalit Rajbanshi and 17 year-old Gulshan Jha will look to aid their main man. Kishore Mahato will be the key seam bowler.

Nepal's probable Asia Cup lineup: Playing 11 and combination

Playing XI

Nepal are slightly lighter on specialist bowlers and will have to rely on their all-rounders to bowl a significant portion of the overs. This will certainly have an effect on their team combination and how they go on about using their options. This will mean they will look at different options in different games. With those factors in mind we tried to pick a suitable playing XI for the Asia Cup.

1. Kushal Bhurtel

The inform opener who was exceptional in the recently concluded World Cup qualifiers will dawn the innings for Nepal.

The 26 year-old right hander is one of Nepal’s more accomplished attacking players and he will look to get his team to good starts against some quality bowling line-ups. If needed he can roll his arm for some decent leg spinners to get a breakthrough as well.

If they are to do well in the tournament, he will have to drag his form from the WCQ to Sri Lanka and Pakistan, against much higher quality bowling line-ups.

2. Aasif Sheikh (wk)

The 22 year-old wicket keeper batter has shown great promise to be a consistent performer for his country. He will open the innings and look to anchor the innings. While n

ot as explosive as the opening partner, he is more technically sound and handles the threat of the swinging new ball relatively well. While he needs to work on his strike rate, he can provide a solid start that will allow the aggressive middle-order to fire. 

3. Kushal Malla

The teenage all-rounder already has a hundred in this format and bats at a strike rate of over 100. He is the enforcer of this team at no.3 and a vital player of the system Nepal wants to implement.

His country will need the left-hander to fire if they are to get to some big scores in the Asia Cup. The 19 year-old is a handy bowler as well, he can bowl economically and take the odd wicket to break partnerships as well.

4. Rohit Paudel (c)

At just 20 years old, the right hander is the youngest captain in this tournament by a large margin.

He is Nepal’s conduit between the top and the middle order and the pace setter of the innings batting in the vital no.4 spot. It is almost surreal that he has already been playing for more than 4 years at the International level and one of Nepal’s more experienced players in terms of the no. of matches played. There will be big expectations on his young shoulders.

5. Aarif Sheikh

The older brother of opening batter Aasif Sheikh, Aarif Sheikh will occupy the crucial no.5 spot. While he has played as a top order batter for the most part of career, the Nepal management believe the right-hander to be more suited to a middle-order sport.

He has dug Nepal out of some tricky situations in the past; but he will need to improve his strike rate if he is to nail a long term spot in this position.

6. Dipendra Singh Airee

While he has made his name as an explosive batter in the T20 format, he will be a vital player at the no.6 spot of this ODI team, as the hard-hitting finisher.

He had some successful stints in franchise cricket and will look to bring that experience of playing against high quality bowling to this team. With the ball he is a very versatile option, capable of bowling both off-spin and medium pace. Expect him to be a containment option for this team with his economical bowling. 

7. Bhim Sharki

Another youngster looking to make his name in the international game, Sharki will be tasked with batting at no.7. He will need to bat with the tail, and keep the scoreboard ticking in the back end. While not a hard-hitter, he is a smart operator and will be aided by the fact that Nepal has a bunch of all-rounders which means their tail-enders are all capable batters. However, he will need to up his game to ensure Nepal scores heavily in the back end.

8. Gulshan Jha

A cunning right-arm medium pacer by trade, he is a handy batter who can hit a long ball and often has even been promoted up the order as well.

While he can go for a few runs, Nepal will look to him to take wickets with his variations. He is particularly effective in the middle overs when batters are looking to go after him. With the bat Nepal will want the 17 year-old to hit some lusty blows and look to push him up the order if necessary.

9. Karan KC

The oldest player of this playing XI the barrel chested 31 year-old is also the one and only genuine express pace bowler Nepal has. He can unsettle even the best of batters with his pace and aggression.

Nepal will rely on him to bowl with the new ball and at the death, taking wickets in each phase. He is a powerful slogger with the bat and played a historic knock against Canada which helped Nepal secure ODI status, earning him a permanent spot in Nepali folklore.

10. Kishore Mahato

The up and coming seamer is a beacon of hope in the Nepali pace bowling future. With the experience of playing just 2 One-day Internationals in total, he will be thrust into the daunting big stage relatively early.

However, Nepal will need his venom with the ball as they are otherwise reliant on their spinner mostly. He will look to dovetail with the veteran Karan KC and learn the trade from him, at the same time trying to get some major scalps in this Asia Cup.

11. Sandeep Lamichhane

Nepal’s poster boy, their talisman, the main man from the mountains, you can use several adjectives to describe the global superstar from Nepal. With a wealth of franchise experience at only 23 years old, he will be the spearhead of this Nepal bowling.

If Nepal are to even consider giving the big teams a run for their money, Lamichhane will have to bowl his heart out. Having already taken 111 wickets in just 49 ODI games, he certainly has the skill to do so.

Final thought

An infant ODI team, the mountain nation will not have any significant burden of expectation on their shoulders. This is a great opportunity for them to battle with the big boys and gain valuable experience.

If they can  get a win against India or Pakistan, it will be a cricketing upset for the ages, but that is what the game is about, uncertainty. Nepal will bring that precious element to this Asia Cup, driven by some impressive youngsters. 

Teams have started going over their strategy, as the Asia Cup comes closer to the horizon; let the battle commence. 

 

Jish B

Jish B

Born to a cricket-crazy father and a writer mother, Jish combined his parents' passions to fuel his own dreams of being a sports journalist. If it's got a scoring system and needs to be written about, chances are this guy has written about it.