Host Nepal set for CWC League 2 face-off with Netherlands, Namibia

Kathmandu, Feb. 14: Winning 11 of the final 12 matches in ICC CWC League 2’s inaugural edition (2019-2023), Nepal secured a place in the 2023 World Cup qualifier tournament; however, the team could not advance to the World Cup hosted by India in 2023.

ICC CWC League 2, the second tier of international 50-over cricket, was introduced to induct the best associate teams into the World Cup after extending quotas. While there were seven teams in the first edition, the second edition of ICC CWC League 2 (2024-2027) has eight: Nepal, Namibia, Netherlands, Scotland, UAE, Oman, USA and Canada.

The eight teams will be competing in 24 tri-series of six matches each throughout the campaign. Nepal, Netherlands and Namibia are playing the first of the 24 tri-series at TU International Cricket Ground from February 15 to 25.

Assembling points of the eight teams from the 24 tri-series, the top four teams will advance to the 2027 World Cup Qualifiers. 

Chris Tetley, ICC Head of Events, in a press statement released today on the first tri-series of League 2 starting in Nepal, said, “The League 2 fixtures are a very important part of our cricket calendar because…they provide a pathway to the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2027. The League 2 series provide Members with the opportunity to schedule T20I fixtures around their 50-over matches, providing an excellent opportunity to prepare for the World Cup in the T20 format (June 2024).”

Host on a roll

The year 2024 started well for Nepal’s men’s national cricket team as the team whitewashed a series on home soil for the first time. Playing with Canada in a bilateral series of 3 ODIs from February 8 to 12, Nepal won all three matches in style.  

Furthermore, Nepal won the series with four young debutants – Surya Tamang, Aakash Chand, Hemant Dhami and Rijan Dhakal – and two inactive internationals – Anil Kumar Sah and Pawan Sarraf – returning for national duty. Meanwhile, three quality players – Dipendra Singh Airee, Karan KC and Gulshan Jha – were given rest during the friendly series.

Alongside winning most of the matches among associate members, the national team’s performance at the Asia Cup and Asian Games against Pakistan and India in 2023 has boosted the players’ morale as well.  Expressing the team’s mentality after winning the series against Canada, Nepal’s captain Rohit Kumar Paudel said, “We are pleased to be hosting the first tri-series of League 2 as the campaign has several talented sides. We are more confident about our upcoming ICC League 2 matches after a 3-0 win over Canada. These are exciting times for us with the T20 World Cup less than four months away.”

Starting with strong opponents

The Netherlands and Namibia are not weak teams. Moreover, the Dutch side is on a better roll than Nepal.

Qualifying for the World Cup in India last year, the Netherlands team secured two major victories against powerhouses South Africa and Bangladesh. 

On the other hand, Namibia won a T20 series against Zimbabwe 3-2 in October 2023. Namibia defeated Zimbabwe once again in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Africa Region Qualifiers in November 2023 and ended the qualifiers in the top position among seven teams unbeaten. 

Both Namibia and the Netherlands have qualified for the T20 World Cup in June alongside Nepal. Moreover, the Dutch team is in the same group as Nepal, South Africa, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka for the World Cup.

The three teams will play two matches each in the tri-series. Nepal will face Namibia on February 15 and 21, and the Netherlands on February 17 and 25.

As per the 2024 calendar for League 2, after the first tri-series against Namibia and Netherlands, Nepal is scheduled to play against Canada and Oman in September, and Scotland and the USA in October.

All squads revealed

Squads of all three teams have now been revealed with Namibia revealing its squad for the League 2 matches on Monday evening.

Nepal’s squad for League 2 was announced alongside the squad for the series against Canada. Rohit Kumar Paudel is captaining the squad comprising Aasif Sheikh, Kushal Bhurtel, Kushal Malla, Aarif Sheikh, Pawan Sarraf, Bhim Sharki, Arjun Saud, Dipendra Singh Airee, Gulshan Jha, Sompal Kami, Karan KC, Lali Rajbanshi, Surya Tamang and Rijan Dhakal. Pratish GC, Dev Khanal, Anil Kumar Sah and Bibek Yadav have been kept as reserves.

The Royal Dutch Cricket Federation, aka KNCB, made public its squad visiting Nepal on February 9. Scott Edwards is likely to captain the team of Max O’Dowd, Vikramjit Singh, Noah Croes, Shariz Ahmad, Aryan Dutt, Teja Nidamanuru, Michael Levitt, Vivian Kingma, Wesley Barresi, Sybrand Engelbrecht, Roelof van der Merwe, Bas de Leede, Kylie Klien and Olivier Elenbaas.

The Namibian side, which is currently known as ‘Richelieu Eagles’ after Richelieu announced a three-year sponsorship of Namibia’s national cricket team in 2022, is being led by captain Gerhard Erasmus. Other players in the squad are Zane Green, JJ Smit, Michael van Lingen, Nicol Loftie-Eaton, Shaun Fouche, Ben Shikongo, Jan Frylinck, Ruben Trumpelmann, Niko Davin, Tangeni Lungameni, Jack Brassell, Bernard Scholtz, JP Kotze and Malan Kruger.

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