Crown Prince Paras will inaugurate the Fifth Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Under-19 Cup cricket tournament in the Kathmandu Valley today.
The biggest ever international sporting event in the country with 15 nations participating is scheduled to kick off at the TU Cricket Ground, Kirtipur.
Nepal is hosting the event for the second time with a dream to complete a glorious hattrick in the homeland.
The inauguration ceremony with a colourful display of cultural dances will be beamed live by Nepal Television.
The matches will begin on Tuesday. Nepal will take on Bahrain at TU while three other matches are also scheduled for the opening day. Nepal will play against Brunei on Wednesday at Birednra Sainik Awasiya Mahavidhyalaya (BSAM) Ground in Bhaktapur.
Four grounds, one each in the four cities of the valley, will hosts matches. Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) has also prepared turf wickets at BSAM, Institute of Engineering in Lalitpur and Tundikhel, Kathmandu in addition to TU Ground.
Fifteen non-Test playing nations which are participating in the event are Nepal, Bahrain and Brunei in Group A, Kuwait, Afghanistan, UAE and Iran in Group B, Qatar, Singapore, Oman and Thailand in Group C and Malaysia, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and Maldives in Group D.
Along with the successful hosting, Nepal is also looking for victory in the tournament. Nepal is the two-time defending champion of the event winning it here in 2001 and in Karachi, Pakistan in 2003. The winner qualifies for the ICC U-19 Youth World Cup, 2006 scheduled for February in Sri Lanka.
"We are the favourites," captain Kaniska Chaugai believes. "We have a balanced team with a very good bowling combination and experienced players." Kaniska, along with a few other members of his team, had played in the last two editions of the event and two Youth World Cups. In fact, Kaniska was man of the match in 2001 final and best batsmen in 2003.
"On paper, it looks the best ever Under-19 team but we have to prove that on field," he says adding that Nepal will be fully utilizing familiar home conditions and crowd support. "I believe, Malaysia and Afghanistan will prove tough opponents."
The event is also unique because it would introduce the rule of substitute or super-sub for the first time in an ACC event.
"Nepal will be the biggest beneficiary of super-sub rule," Kaniska claims.
"The boys have been in the matches for long and had a very good closed-camp," Nepali manager Pradeep Karki says.
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