Nepal bowler Sandeep Lamichhane celebrates a wicket with his team mates during a World Cup Qualifier play off cricket match between Nepal and Papua New Guinea at Old Hararians Sports Club March 15 2018 (©ICC) - Image by ICC OMZ @ICC (Twitter)

After a somewhat successful year of International cricket in 2018, Nepal is all set to start their 2019 season with a full fledged limited-overs tour of UAE from Jan 25th – Feb 03rd, 2019. This will be the 2nd tour for the Nepal men’s national squad after already having played their first ODI series against Netherlands during their tour of Europe (England/Netherlands), which ended on 1-1.

A rather disappointing campaign in the 2018 Asia Cup Qualifiers was the national squad’s last International assignment in 2018 and the team will be all set to begin the new year on a much more positive note. Nepal last visited the Emirates nation in Dec 2017 to play the final round of ICC World Cricket League Championships against the host’s. Will the latest tour mark new beginnings for the Himalayan country?? Let’s have look previewing the series:

Nepal tour of UAE Preview:

Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) will be hosting the bi-lateral series from 25th Jan – 3rd Feb. Both the nations faced each other last time in the 2018 ACC Asia Cup Qualifiers in Malaysia, with UAE coming up triumphant by winning the match by 78 runs. This series will also provide Nepal the required number of games to get their official team rankings in the ICC ODI and T20I Team rankings.

Both countries have announced their squad for the series with UAE missing the services of their regular captain in Rohan Mustafa, along with Ahmed Raza and Rameez Shahzad, who have been suspended from playing international cricket by ECB for eight weeks on the account of making critical comments about ground infrastructure & facilities and in Pakistan on social media during the 2018 ACC Emerging Nations Asia Cup in December 2018.

For UAE, losing those 3 squad members creates a big void in their line-up as they have been forced to include three uncapped players in Tahir Mughal, Fahad Nawaz & C. P Rizwan in their squad. In the absence of Rohan & Rameez, the onus on batting will fall on the shoulders of Ashfaq Ahmed, Chirag Suri and Shaiman Anwar. UAE have played some good competitive cricket in the past 12-18 months; however, their main challenge will be to counter Nepal’s spin bowlers in Sandeep Lamichhane and Basant Regmi at the ICC Academy grounds in Dubai. Mohammad Naveed, who will be leading the National side for the first time, would like to bank on home conditions to guide UAE to victory over Nepal. Naveed told “Being made captain of the country is a very proud moment for me and the first goal is to win against Nepal".

UAE overall record in One Day Internationals:

No of ODI’s Played: 46
Won: 13
lost: 33

Highest team total: 300/6 v Scotland; Highest individual score: 132 n.o by Khurram Khan v Afghanistan; Best bowling: 6/34 by Zahoor Khan

UAE overall record in Twenty20 Internationals:

No of T20I’s Played: 27
Won: 9
Lost: 18

Highest team total: 180/3 v Papua New Guinea; Highest individual score: 117 n.o by Shaiman Anwar v Papua New Guinea; Best bowling: 3/9 by Rohan Mustafa v Oman

Nepal and national skipper Paras Khadka they would like to take advantage of the absence of Mustafa and win their first international ODI & T20I series overseas. If their usual demons in the batting department can be sorted out, it would go a png way to ensure success in International cricket. Nepal are set to miss the services of seasoned campaigner Sharad Vesawkar, who withdrew his name from the provisional squad, citing health issues. In the press meet skipper paras told that they want to win their first International bi-lateral series and gave some hints of changing the batting order in the matches to come. He also added that he might even come up the order to open the batting if team requirements are such. It’ll be an interesting option and also a risky one if he strides out to open the innings with Malla, leaving the middle-order with very less experienced players.

Youngsters in Avinash Bohara, Bhim Sharki, Pawan Sarraf & Sandeep Jhora would love to experience some International match exposure with ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Asia Regional Finals also coming up in next few months.

Nepal overall record in One Day Internationals:

No of ODI’s Played : 3
Won : 1
lost : 2

Highest team total: 216 v Netherlands; Highest individual score: 61, Sompal Kami v Netherlands; Best individual bowling figures: 4/24, Sandeep Lamichhane v UAE

Nepal overall record in Twenty20 Internationals:

No of T20I’s Played : 12
Won :3
Lost : 8
N/R : 1

Highest team total: 149/8 v Hong Kong; Highest individual score: 56, Subash Khakurel v Afghanistan; Best individual bowling figures: 4/16, Basanta Regmi v Hong Kong

Nepal tour of UAE ODI series Schedule:

First ODI: 25 January,
Time: NST 11.15 am

Second ODI: 26 January,
Time: NST 11.15 am

Third ODI: 28 January,
Time: NST 11.15 am

Nepal tour of UAE T20I series schedule:

First T20I: 31 January,
Time: NST 17:45 pm

Second T20I: 1 February,
Time: NST 17:45 pm

Third T20I: 3 February,
Time: NST 17:45 pm

UAE squad:
Mohammad Naveed (Captain), Muhammad Usman (vc), Ashfaq Ahmed, Qadeer Ahmed, Sultan Ahmed, Shaiman Anwar, Mohammad Boota, Imran Haider, Amir Hayat, Zahoor Khan, Tahir Mughal, Fahad Nawaz, C.P Rizwan, Ghulam Shabber, Abdul Shakoor & Chirag Suri

Nepal Squad:
Paras Khadka (Captain), Gyanendra Malla (vc), Dipendra Singh Airee, Pradeep Airee, Binod Bhandari, Avinash Bohara, Sandeep Jhora, Sompal Kami, Karan KC, Rohit Kumar Paudel, Sandeep Lamichhane, Lalit Rajbanshi, Basanta Regmi, Pawan Sarraf, Bhim Sharki & Aarif Sheikh

Live Broadcast:
Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) already confirmed that the first match of the series will be on air and the details will be announced shortly. ECB has named the UAE vs NEPAL limited over series as “ANIB challenge series” after securing sponsorship from ANIB (Al Nabooda Insurance Brokers) and also announced AED 10,000 cash prize for the winning team.

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