KANDY (AFP): Nepal are looking forward to the “big opportunity” of facing cricketing powerhouse India in the Asia Cup, skipper Rohit Paudel said Sunday, adding that his players would be looking to interact with their idols.
Asia Cup debutants Nepal will play India in the final Group A match in Pallekele on Monday to decide the second team to make it to the Super Four stage of the 50-over tournament, a precursor to the upcoming ODI World Cup.
Nepal, who made waves after they reached the World Cup qualifiers earlier this year, suffered a heavy loss to Pakistan in the tournament opener.
They now face another stern test against seven-time Asia Cup winners India, whose opening match against Pakistan was abandoned due to rain after the first innings.
Rain looms large over the Nepal-India contest as well, with the winner joining Pakistan in the next stage. In case the points are shared, India will move ahead.
“We all are very excited, especially playing against India. It is a big opportunity for all of us to represent our country at the biggest stage,” Paudel, a top-order batsman, told reporters.
“Weather is not in our control but we are hoping that we get an opportunity to play against India, to showcase our talent.”
Playing against top stars including Indian skipper Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli would be a rare moment for the minnows, but Paudel said his players will only allow themselves “a fanboy moment” after the match is over.
He also defended his star leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane, who went for runs in the team’s 238-run loss to Pakistan.
“He is a very important player for us as he has delivered in crunch situations,” Paudel said. “We are here because of him… a very impactful player for our team.”
Lamichhane, 23, joined the team late for the Asia Cup after his trial over the alleged rape of a 17-year-old woman in a Kathmandu hotel room in August last year was pushed back.
Lamichhane denies all charges.
India did not train or hold a press conference after their match on Saturday.