Canada, Kenya, Nepal, Netherlands, Uganda, and host Namibia are locking horns in the eight-day tournament across three grounds, Wanderers, Wanderers Affies, and United, while final to be played at Wanderers on January 24, 2015.
The top two teams will progress to the ICC’s four-day, first class competition for Associate and Affiliate Members (AMs), the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2015-17, as well as the 50-over Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship.
Plus, following recent decision of the ICC to break the glass ceiling and allow the winner of the ICC Intercontinental Cup the opportunity to qualify to play Test cricket, the WCL has become even more significant.
In that situation, little surprise that all six participating nations in the WCL Division 2 have to put their best foot forward to qualify for the IC Cup.
However, it's Nepal that got to walk an extra mile to be in the position of the top two to keep the overwhelming enthusiasm alive at home for Nepali Cricket.
More so, as that might do a world of good to the 'Cricket of Association of Nepal' (CAN), while CAN's newly appointed CEO, Ms. Bhawana Ghimire, seems to have been pushing the envelope quite prudently towards all stake holders of cricket with a productive agenda on mind for the development of the game.
Bhawana's vision seems to be clear and it's like: "If Nepal develops cricket, cricket will develop Nepal, so let's join hands, perform and deliver, because WE CAN."
Her initiatives are no doubt drawing attention notwithstanding all adversities that CAN is subjected to thanks to the financial irregularities committed by the previous board, which actually helped cricket in Nepal regress catering to a few persons' vested interest at the cost of the larger interest of Nepal and its people.
Losing the first match to the weakest team Uganda, Nepal definitely didn't serve any purpose. Though, beating Netherlands in their second match, they somehow regained the lost ground.
If the score-sheet is looked at, it is getting clear, Nepal's batting remained a big question mark in the two games to chase even a moderate total - below 160. On the contrary, bowling, without qualms, performed quite well.
To win matches in such a high-octane tournament, where there is no room to either relax or rest, 'articulate planning' is imperative for batting.
In my opinion, Nepal must do the following things to get things right:
1. Unless there is moisture in the air or the wicket is damp or a dew factor is likely, Nepal should bat first whenever they win a toss. That will help their batsmen bat freely without keeping any score on mind to chase.
2. 50 overs of Nepal innings should be divided into three parts: First 15 overs; 16th over to 40th over; and the last 10 overs. And then planning should be made accordingly.
3. In the first 15 overs, more than 3 wickets should never be lost and at least 70-75 runs got to be scored. In the mid 25 overs, again, maximum 3 wickets could be lost and minimum 100-110 runs should be accumulated by rotating strikes. When fielders are spread, not getting 4 runs per over is a criminal offence in any form of the cricket, if not the ball is turning square. In the last 10 overs, target should be to make minimum 60 runs; however if it is 8 down already within 45th over then the main target should be to play full 50 overs.
4. During batting, no T20 type, insane improvisation is needed. In the first 15 overs, no wild slog or cross-batted heave on the front-foot to send the ball into the stands over mid-wicket is required. Proper cricketing shots are sufficient to score adequate runs in the first 15 overs.
5. Taking a middle-stump guard instead of leg-stump might also help to a great extent. For that could entice the opposition bowlers bowl more into the pads for easy pickings. Also, it might win a few more leg-side wides, creating a bit of doubt in umpires.
6. The middle-stump guard can reduce the unnecessary shuffling towards the off-stump thereby will help the head remain steady while playing shots to good effect.
7. Time to time, mostly against pacers, a Nepalese batsman can walk down the crease while the bowler is about to release the ball. It has two advantages:
a) The bowler might be tempted to pitch it short and, in the process, concede a no or a wide, or bowl a full-toss at a comfortable height to be banged
b) The umpire might be confused to give an LBW decision, looking at the point of impact
One thing, Nepalese batsmen should always remember that cricket is a mind-game, and they can only make runs and win it for the team and the nation, if they play to a bowler's weaknesses than their own strengths.
Net-net, what I feel CAN should appoint a 'batting planner or batting strategist' as soon as possible. Because, in a 50-over game, more than technique commonsense is needed.
PS: The knock that AB de Villiers played against West Indies was a magic, and a magic is not the ground reality. So, mindful and mature batting is the need of the hour for Nepal to macho flourish or brandish of the willow.