The countdown has finally come to an end. The Bajaj Pulsar Tri-Nations Series, hosted by the Cricket Association of Nepal, begins in under twenty-four hours at the home of Nepal Cricket, the Tribhuvan University (TU) International Ground. The men’s T20I tri-series will see the three teams – Malaysia, the Netherlands, and hosts, Nepal – in action for the first time in over a year.
In Emerging Cricket’s preview, you will learn more about the squads, the significance of the tournament, media and broadcast timings, weather forecasts, the venue, and more.
The Bajaj Pulsar Tri-Nations Series will be played in a double round-robin format. Each of the three teams will get four matches in the league stage and the top two will make the finals. In total, seven T20I matches will be played, directly influencing global T20I rankings. None of the three teams have played any international cricket since the global outbreak of COVID-19 and might be expected to see some changes in their approach as well.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Kathmandu is on the up. Nepal’s Health Ministry has requested citizens not to participate in the gatherings and practice social distancing. These measures will most certainly see the number of attendees at matches fall.
Malaysia, although perceived as the underdogs in the series, has picked a strong squad, capable of challenging their more illustrious competitors and producing an upset on the day.
Led by experienced Ahmed Faiz, they have young players like Syed Aziz and Virandeep Singh, who, on their day, decimate quality opponents. Taking their domestic T20 competition into consideration, Aziz and Singh were the top run-scorers in the domestic T20 setup, scoring over 950 runs last year with a strike rate of over 140. Both are handy bowling options too.
Along with these two, the Malaysian team has batters like Anwar Aruddin, Mohammad Shafiq Sharif, and Captain Ahmad Faiz himself whose skills and experience can do severe damage against the oppositions. Left-arm spinner Pavandeep Singh was the highest wicket-taker in the domestic season last year picking 53 wickets with an economy of just 5.63 averaging 14.77. He has 25 T20I wickets in his 19 innings and averages 18.20 with an economy of 6.67.
All-rounders Fitri Sham and Syazrul Idrus can produce some runs and wickets in the lower order. Watch out for Muhammad Irfan Wafiq and Dhivendran Mogan, both tall and skiddy operators, who may also surprise some with their pace. Wafiq’s left armers angle away from the right handers.
Malaysia may be underdogs but they cannot be considered easy beats for their opponents.
Malaysia Squad: Ahmad Faiz Bin Mohammad Nor (c), Virandeep Singh (vc), Syed Aziz Bin Syed Mubarak, Sharvin a/l Muniandy, Mohd Anwar bin Arudin, Mohd Shafiq bin Mohd Sharif, Ainool Hafizs bin Md Yatim, Aminuddin Ramly, Muhammad Anwar bin A Rahman, Syazrul Ezat bin Idrus, Muhammad Wafiq Irfan bin Zarbani, Pavandeep Singh, Muhammad Fitri Bin Mohd Sham, Khizar Hayat Durrani Dhivendran a/l Mogan
The hosts Nepal led by skipper Gyanendra Malla have a good squad and a number of players who may debut in the series. Skipper Malla has unfinished business to settle while Paras Khadka, if he starts cracking from his early balls, will be unstoppable at the TU Ground. Dipendra Singh Airee’s form has been phenomenal. He has scored a century and a half-century in the practice matches played at the closed camp and Binod Bhandari can be the big man once again in the TU Ground for Nepalese fans.
Sandeep Lamichhane will be expected to help Nepal bowl out opposition. Not often acknowledged is the fact that Lamichhane can slog very well down the ground, although he cannot bat as regular batsmen. Sompal Kami and Karan KC’s performances as the fast bowling all-rounders will be crucial for Nepal if the batting starts to collapse. Pawan Sarraf’s exclusion might cause some trouble somewhere around as Nepal marches ahead to claim the trophy but all in all, Nepal has a decent squad to win the series. To know more information about Nepal’s squad, you can be redirected here and here.
Nepal’s Squad: Gyanendra Malla (c), Dipendra Singh Airee (vc), Sandeep Jora*, Binod Bhandari, Sompal Kami, Karan KC, Sandeep Lamichhane, Abinash Bohara, Aarif Sheikh, Aasif Sheikh, Kushal Bhurtel, Kushal Malla, Shahab Alam, Kamal Singh Airee and Sushan Bhari. (*replacing the injured Paras Khadka)
The Dutch team is led by their star all-rounder Pieter Seelaar who has 61 T20I wickets and a highest score of 96(46) against Scotland in 2019. In the top order, Netherlands has a fantastic quartet of Max O’Dowd, Tobias Visee, Ben Cooper, and Scott Edwards will lead the top-order charge, the latter with an outstanding strike rate of over 128. In 2019, Max O’Dowd became the third-highest run scorer in a career year in T20Is scoring 702 runs at an average of 29.25 with a strike rate of 120.82. That same year, Ben Cooper was the sixth-highest run scorer in a career year. Tony Staal and Bas de Leede can both score quick runs teenage sensation Vikramjit Singh will also be one to watch.
Quick Paul Van Meekeren and Viv Kingma will lead the Dutch attack, supported by all-rounder Bas De Leede, and Sebastiaan Braat who is also a handy lower order bat. Leg-spinner Philippe Boissevain will accompany Seelar in the spin department. Young, uncapped spinners, Julian de Mey and Aryan Dutt are certain to add extra value to the team.
All in all, the Dutch team is well balanced and strong, even without their county players. The team is yet to play Malaysia at the T20I format. Their last 50-Over clash was at the ICC Trophy 1996 where the Dutch were victorious by nine wickets.
Netherlands Squad: Pieter Seelar (c), Philippe Boissevain, Sebastiaan Braat, Ben Cooper, Bas de Leede, Julian de May, Aryan Dutt, Scott Edwards, Vivian Kingma, Max O’Dowd, Vikramjit Singh, Antonius Staal, Paul van Meekeren, Tobias Visee
WHEN AND WHERE
The series commences 17th of April. Hosts, Nepal take on the Dutch in the series opener and will continue for a week until the 24th of April when the series decider will be played. All of the seven matches will be hosted at the Tribhuvan International Cricket Ground, Kirtipur in Kathmandu. Games will be telecast live on Himalaya Television HD in Nepal whose feed will be distributed via Sports Flick and Free Sports across the globe.
According to Accuweather, the tournament opener on Saturday might see hazy sunshine with some possibilities of thunderstorms and rain in Kathmandu, in the afternoon. Sunday and Monday will see hazy sunshine while all other days this week might be sunny with some clouds around the sky.
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