Nepal’s team heads to India for SMS Friendship Cup

Kathmandu, Mar. 29: Minister for Youths and Sports Biraj Bhakta Shrestha alongside officials of the Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) bade farewell to the men’s senior cricket team on Thursday. The squad is travelling to Vapi, a city in Valsad district of India, to participate in the SMS Friendship Cup.

After playing in the tournament in India, the team will fly directly to Oman for the ACC Men’s Premier Cup, which kicks off between 10 teams on April 12.

The SMS Friendship Cup is a T20 tournament between Nepal and two Ranji teams – Gujarat Cricket Association and Baroda Cricket Association. It will be hosted at Sai Meghpan Sporrtslife (SMS) Cricket Ground from March 31 onwards.

The teams will play in a double round-robin format with the top two teams qualifying for the final on April 7. 

Nepal will face Gujarat on March 31 and April 3 and confront Baroda on April 2 and 5.

The 15-men squad that defeated Ireland A in the two T20s played on March 24 and 25 is travelling to India. While Nepal had announced the squad for the SMS Friendship Cup before the match against Ireland A, the Gujarat Cricket Association has recently revealed its squad.

Umang Rohit Kumar is captaining Gujarat’s 17-member squad with Aarya Desai as the vice-captain. Other players in the squad are Smit Patel, Rishi Patel, Priyesh Patel (WK), Abhishek Desai (WK), Jaymeet Patel, Rudra Patel, Hemang Patel, Tejas Patel, Jayveer Parmar, Shen Patel, Jay Malusare, Yuvraj Zala, Saral Prajapati, Drushant Soni and Harsh Desai. 

Nepal to Oman

The ACC Men’s Premier Cup, which crowns the best Associate team in Asia, is a gateway to the Asia Cup. It is the second edition being played in 2024.

Participated by 10 teams divided into two groups, Nepal is in Group A with Hong Kong, Malaysia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The teams in Group B include the host Oman, Cambodia, Kuwait and the UAE.

The top two teams from each group after playing in a single round-robin format qualify for the playoffs. 

Nepal is playing the first match of the ACC Men’s Premier Cup against Malaysia, Qatar, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia on April 12, 13, 15 and 17 respectively.

Nepal had hosted and won the first edition of the tournament in 2023 to qualify for Asia Cup 2024.

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