KATHMANDU, Oct 1: ACC Trophy Elite, scheduled to kick off in the UAE from Wednesday, will be a reality check for the Nepali national cricket team that is delirious after winning the title of ICC World Cricket League Division 4 last month in Malaysia.
Nepali players and coach have already set a new target of qualifying into the WCL Division 2 and at least earn One-Day status. In this scenario, the ACC Trophy Elite would be an opportunity to prove their claims, as Nepal is to meet higher ranked teams like the host UAE, Hong Kong in the group stage and could meet Oman and Afghanistan in the later part of the tournament.
"Things are moving well for us and the ACC Trophy would be the right time to check our standard against better teams like Afghanistan, the UAE, Hong Kong and Oman, who are above us in ranking," said coach Pubudu Dassanayake.
"During the Division 4 in Malaysia, we didn´t have to face quality bowling like that of Afghanistan and the UAE. We are focusing on improving batting to face them in the ACC Trophy," he added.
Nepal will start ACC Trophy campaign on Wednesday as it takes on the host UAE. Nepal will face Kuwait on Saturday and Saudi Arabia on Sunday. Nepal will lock horns against Hong Kong on October 9 in the last group B match of the tournament.
Afghanistan, Malaysia, Oman, Bhutan and Maldives are slated on group A of the tournament. Top two teams of a group will qualify for the semifinals.
"We do have specific plans for each team and we want to keep improving our batting during the ACC Trophy as we are to face quality bowling in the UAE," said Dassanayake. "Our bowling is up to the standard and fielding is better now," he added.
However, Dassanayake is not fully satisfied with the preparation. "But we are trying to get better with whatever we have. We could not tour the UAE prior to the tournament and we had no choice but to train in Kirtipur," said Dassanayake before leaving Kathmandu on Sunday.
The coach said that there is no injury scares in the team except minor injuries to fast bowlers Amrit Bhattarai and Binod Das. "They are facing minor injuries but they will be fit for the tournament," assured the coach.
Earlier, fast bowler Chandra Saud and spinner Rahul Vishwakarma had pulled out of the team because of the injury and batsman Binod Bhandari and spinner Bhuwan Karki had replaced them.
Nepal is yet to clinch the title of ACC Trophy. Nepal had reached the final of the 2002 and 2010 editions of the tournament but lost to the UAE and Afghanistan correspondingly. Nepal had reached only semifinals in the 2000, 2006 and 2008 editions. Nepal was out from group stage in the 1996 and 1998 editions and had finished fifth in the 2004 edition.