To maintain their one-day international (ODI) status, Nepal will start their ICC World Cup League 2 of the United Arab Emirates triangle series against Papua New Guinea (PNG) at DSC in Dubai on Monday.
In addition to Nepal and Papua New Guinea, the series also features the home team, the United Arab Emirates. Originally, the series was supposed to be a home game in Papua New Guinea, but due to internal reasons for the home team, it was moved to the UAE.
All three teams are yet to play two series — eight games in League 2. Papua New Guinea are at the bottom of the standings with five points from 28 matches and 2 wins and 1 draw. Even winning all of their remaining eight games would not change their position in the standings.
But the remaining eight games are significant for Nepal and the UAE, who sit sixth and fifth in the standings respectively. The UAE have 29 points in the seven-team standings, with Nepal on 26.
The remaining matches will be crucial for both teams to maintain their ODI status and secure a direct spot in the World Cup qualifiers. The top three teams will qualify directly for the World Cup qualifiers and the top five should retain their ODI status which will end in July. However, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has yet to reveal a clear roadmap regarding ODI status.
Nepal will secure fifth place if they win five of their remaining eight matches, and they can move into the top three if they win seven. Likewise, the UAE will also qualify for ODIs if they win four games. Even three wins would be enough to crack the top five if they maintain a better run rate than the United States of America. They need to win five games to secure a place in the top three.
“Every match is like a semi-final for us and we will play one game at a time,” Nepal captain Rohit Podell said before the team departed.
Nepal got a boost from their sweep of Namibia and champions Scotland in their latest home series. “We need to keep the momentum and the current form,” captain Paudel said after winning the final game of the series.
In the UAE League 2 home series held in March last year, Nepal played both teams twice. While Nepal beat Papua New Guinea by two wickets and seven wickets in both games, they lost both games against the UAE. They lost the game by 48 and 99 points respectively.
Nepal will be without their influential bowler Sandeep Lamichhane, who faces a travel ban imposed by the Patan High Court due to a minor rape allegation against him. Lamichhane has taken 13 wickets in the latest home series.
Nepal are scheduled to play the UAE on March 2, Papua New Guinea the next day and then wrap up the series against the UAE.