The long and winding journey towards the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 makes its next stop in Nepal shortly with six teams competing in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Division 5 (WCL Div. 5) from 20 to 27 February. The WCL gives the ICC’s Associate and Affiliate Members a clear pathway towards qualification for the pinnacle event of the limited-overs game.
Not that it is easy to get there, of course. Tournament host and favourite Nepal will face tough opposition in its attempt to finish in the top two and gain promotion to Division 4 to be held in Italy in August this year. The other teams taking part in the tournament are Bahrain, Fiji, Jersey, Singapore and USA.
The matches will take place on three grounds – Tribhuvan University, Army School Ground and Engineering College.
Singapore, which was victorious when it hosted WCL Div.6 in September 2009, has appointed former Sri Lanka opening batsman Marvan Atapattu as its new coach and he is confident that he can pick up with the side where former high-profile coach Trevor Chappell left off.
“Trevor Chappell did a fantastic job for Singapore and all the side have been given a taste for victory. It’s going to be hard work for the team when we travel to Nepal, which is a challenging venue, but I am confident that we will do well.
“My style of coaching is different to Trevor’s but I am confident the side will adapt and do a good job on Division 5. I believe the wickets in Nepal are not dissimilar to the UK and the seam bowlers will do well there so I’ve got to get my bowlers ready for those conditions.
“We are a talented team but being part-timers makes their priorities different from those of pro cricketers so I will also need to adjust while they need to understand my expectations of them which is that we must to compete on all three skills levels – batting, bowling and fielding.
“The fielding work Trevor did with the side was great. We just need to keep pushing to get through Division 5 and onto the next rung of the ladder.”
A runner-up of WCL Div. 6 and winners of WCL Div. 7 back in May last year, Bahrain is also confident of success in the tournament in Nepal.
Its coach, former Pakistan Test and ODI fast bowler Mohsin Kamal, is quietly confident about the tournament.
“When we went into Division 6 we didn’t know all our strengths and now I feel we have discovered them. We play our games with our strengths and abilities and I am confident we’ll do well in Nepal.
“We’ve been taking a look at the other teams’ scores but we’re concentrating on ourselves. However, we of course know Singapore from Division 6 and also Nepal from the recent tournament we played in the United Arab Emirates.
“I’ve also taken a trip to Nepal so am aware of the type of pitches we can expect and but as always with this game it’s about what happens on the day,” said Mohsin.
The USA will head to Division 5 straight from the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers in Dubai, where they made a successful start by beating the highly fancied Scotland in its opening match. The side will arrive in Nepal a week early for the tournament to get some 50-over match practice in ahead of their first match against Fiji.
USA captain Steve Massiah said: “We’ll be heading straight from the WT20 Qualifiers to Nepal, so we'll have had plenty of match practice. We’ve got some warm-ups in Nepal to help us get back into 50 over cricket from Twenty20.
“We know Nepal and Jersey well as teams we’ve met before and as for Singapore, Bahrain and Fiji we’ll just have to face what comes at us, but I am confident of my side.”
The full schedule for WCL Div. 5 is as follows:
19 February – Practice and meetings
20 February – Bahrain v Singapore (Tribhuvan); Jersey v Nepal (Army School); Fiji v USA (Engineering)
21 February – Jersey v Fiji (Tribhuvan); USA v Bahrain (Army School); Nepal v Singapore (Engineering)
23 February – USA v Jersey (Tribhuvan); Nepal v Bahrain (Army School); Singapore v Fiji (Engineering)
24 February – Fiji v Nepal (Tribhuvan); Bahrain v Jersey (Army School); Singapore v USA (Engineering)
26 February – Nepal v USA (Tribhuvan); Jersey v Singapore (Army School); Fiji v Bahrain (Engineering)
27 February – Final (Tribhuvan); third/fourth play-off (Army School); fifth/sixth play-off (Engineering)
BAHRAIN: Yaser Sadeq (captain), Muhammad Ashraf Muhmal, Fahad Sadeq, Mirza Azeem Ul Haque, Mohammed Adil Hanif, Zafar Zaheer, Mirza Ashraf Yaqoob, Imran Sajjad, Shahzad Ahmed, Mohammad Tahir Dar, Mohammed Qamar Saeed, Halal Abbasi, Asghar Abdul Majeed, Mirza Rizwan Baig.
FIJI: Josefa Rika, Josefa Balelcicia, Iniasi Cakacaka, Sekove Ravoka, Peni Rika, Viliame Yabaki, Joji Bulabalavu, Maciu Gauna, Jikoi Vanualevu Kida, Tukana Tavo, Tavo Sorovakatini, Sakaraia Lomani, Taniela Waqatuinayau, Gregory Browne.
JERSEY: Ryan Driver (captain), Peter Gough, Dean Morrison, Samuel Dewhurst, Andrew Dewhurst, Ben Stephens, Alexander Noel, Matthew Hague, Robert Minty, Jonathan Gough, Ian Crocker, Thomas Le Lievre, Charles Perchard, Samuel de la Haye.
NEPAL: Paras Khadka (captain), Gyanendra Malla, Binod Kumar Das, Dipendra Chaudhary, Shakti Prasad Gauchan, Mahaboob Alam, Basant Regmi, Mahesh Kumar Chhetri, Naresh Bahadur Budha Ayer, Binod Bhandari, Sanjam Regmi, Amrit Bhattarai, Anil Kumar Mandal, Rahul Kumar Vishwakarma.
SINGAPORE: Munish Arora (captain), Buddhika Mendis, Narendar Reddy, Anish Edward Param, Riaz Altaf Hussien, Chetan Suryawanshi, Chandrasekar Venkadaramani, Shoib Razak, Jackie Manoj Kumar, Dharmichand Mulewa, Pramodh Raja, Saad Khan Janjua, Mohd Omar Mizran, Arun Vijayan.
USA: Steve Massiah (captain), Timroy Allen, Imran Awan, Orlando Baker, Lennox Cush, Kevin Darlington, Sudesh Dhaniram, Rashard Marshall, Sushil Nadkarni, Usman Shuja, Aditya Thyagarajan, Saurabh Verma, Clain Williams and Carl Wright.