Monty Desai urges Nepal to 'believe they belong' after heavy Asia Cup defeat to Pakistan

Tournament newcomers were thrashed by 238 runs on the opening night of the competition

Nepal started brightly against Pakistan but centuries from Babar Azan and Iftikhar Ahmed set up a comfortable win for the hosts. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Monty Desai wants his Nepal players to feel they belong on the big stage so they will not lose focus in key moments.

The Asia Cup newcomers were thrashed by 238 runs by Pakistan on their opening night in the competition on Wednesday.

The margin of defeat belied the fact that they had started well and looked like they were capable of competing in such illustrious company.

There were very clear parallels to when Nepal had played an ODI against West Indies for the first time, at the World Cup Qualifier in Harare back in June.

On that day, Nepal made a fine start, then spurned a chance offered by the outstanding batter in the Windies line up, Nicholas Pooran.

Pooran proceeded to score a rapid ton, set up a total of 339, and take the game away from Nepal.

The situation against Pakistan was almost identical. Karan missed a return catch off Babar Azam when Pakistan’s captain was on 55.

The home team would have been reduced to 133 for five at the time. Instead, Babar went on to make 151 and share a brutal double-century stand with Iftikhar Ahmed, who also made a century.

Chasing an imposing target of 343, Nepal’s batters were then blown away by Pakistan’s remarkable bowling attack.

Desai, Nepal’s coach, said his side are benefitting from the experience of facing top sides more frequently.

He believes they will learn to seize pivotal moments in big games the more they are exposed to them.

“It is a constant conversation we have around those moments,” Desai said. “By now, I have wanted to settle them. You’re playing against a top side, but your mind needs to settle down and they will start believing they belong.

“Once they start believing they belong, they will be more present in those moments.

“That is something that we want to convert. Hopefully in Sri Lanka we can do that in the game against India.”

Nepal face India in Pallekele on Monday in their second group match of the Asia Cup.

Updated: August 31, 2023, 6:54 AM