Scotland v Nepal
Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo
CWCQ, Match 11
Thursday 8 March; 09:30 local time, 07:30 GMT
Perched atop the Group B points table following back-to-back wins in their opening two encounters of the ICC Cricket Word Cup Qualifiers 2018 against Afghanistan and Hong Kong, Scotland will be keen on extending their good run when they face Nepal on Thursday, 8 March.
Scotland, who were the winners of the Qualifier last time around, have done their reputation no harm having first cast aside the much fancied Afghanistan by seven wickets in the opening encounter and then skittling Hong Kong out for just 91 to set up a convincing four-wicket win.
What will be most satisfying for Scotland is that if it were the batsmen, led by Calum MaCleod's unbeaten 146-ball 157, in the first match that got them over the line, against Hong Kong it was the turn of the bowlers to come to the party with Tom Sole and Alasdair Evans running through the opposition.
Sole picked up the Player of the Match award for his remarkable spell of 4/15, which included five maidens, while Evans was equally effective returning with three wickets. Coetzer, having missed out in the first game, welcomed a return to form guiding his side to victory with an unbeaten 41.
Scotland seem to have most bases covered, but having registered comfortable wins in both games has meant that their middle order remains largely untested. The other worrying factor is the form of Matthew Cross who has scores of 18 and 2 so far in the tournament. Having scored an unbeaten 101 against Papua New Guinea in the warm-up game, the Scotland opener will be hoping for a big knock.
For Nepal, who have had a few days' break since their 116-run loss to Zimbabwe in the opening clash, it will a case of regrouping and getting their combination right as they look to turn their fortunes around.
It was a tough first outing for the Asian side as they were pummelled to all parts of the ground by Brendan Taylor and Sikandar Raza, who scored centuries to take Zimbabwe to a towering 380/6. Aarif Sheikh and Sharad Vesawkar did score half-centuries, but a chase of that magnitude needed a big century, which none of the Nepal batsmen could manage.
Nepal know they will have to bring out their A game to get past Scotland and a lot will rely on the shoulders of Paras Khadka and Sandeep Lamichhane yet again. With a series of heart-stopping wins in the ICC World Cricket League Division Two and a victory in the warm-up game against UAE, Nepal know how to win against bigger teams and that is what they will be looking for come Thursday.
Players to watch
Calum MacLeod (Scotland): MacLeod has been a stalwart for Scotland for a long time. The way he nullified the Afghanistan spinners during his knock of 157 where he smoked 23 fours and a six was a sight to behold. With Nepal packing their side with spinners, the onus will once again be on the Scotland opener.
Sandeep Lamichhane: The 17-year-old leg-spinner has been the talk of the town of late. He was the leading wicket-taker during the ICC World Cricket League Division Two, and with the Queens Sports Club surface aiding spin, will once again be a vital cog in the Nepal unit. He started off the first game against Zimbabwe well, picking up the wicket of Cephas Zhuwao, but was then carted for runs finishing with 1/67 in his ten overs. A lot will rest on his young shoulders if Nepal wish to make a mark in the Qualifiers.
Conditions: After Zimbabwe plundered 380/6 in the opening game at Queens Sports Club, they defended 196 against Afghanistan in a two-run thriller, making it difficult to predict the pitch. But, in both games, the spinners had a good time on a pleasant day in Bulawayo
Scotland: Kyle Coetzer (c), Richie Berrington, Matthew Cross, Alasdair Evans, Michael Jones, Michael Leask, Calum MacLeod, George Munsey, Safyaan Sharif, Chris Sole, Tom Sole, Craig Wallace (wk), Mark Watt, Brad Wheal, Stuart Whittingham.
Nepal: Paras Khadka (c), Aarif Sheikh, Dipendra Singh Airee (wk), Lalit Bhandari, Shakti Gauchan, Karan KC, Sandeep Lamichhane, Gyanendra Malla, Dilip Nath, Rohit Kumar, Lalit Rajbanshi, Basant Regmi, Anil Sah, Sompal Kami, Sharad Vesawkar.