Mix of old and new for Tri-Series

THE national men's cricket team embark on just their second international outing since the Covid-19 outbreak when they meet Nepal and Papua New Guinea in a Tri-Series beginning today in Kathmandu.

It will be Malaysia's first Twenty20 International (T20I) matches since competing in another Tri-Series in April last year in Kathmandu when the national team was twice beaten heavily by Nepal besides a loss and a tie against an under-strength Netherlands side.

The national selectors have changed half the side 11 months on with seniors Aminuddin Ramly, Anwar Rahman, Anwar Arudin, Dhivendran Mogan, Fitri Sham, Khizar Hayat Durrani and Shafiq Sharif making way for younger and fresher talent.

Batsman Ahmad Zubaidi Zulkifle and all-rounder Amir Azim Abdul Shukor return to the squad for the first time since making their T20I debuts in a 2019 series against Vanuatu, while bowler Vijay Unni Suresh, 18, and wicketkeeper Ammar Zudhi Hazalan, 21, await their first cap at senior international level.

All-rounder Nazril Abdul Rahman is recalled after being left out of last year's tour.

Syahadat Ramli returns after his last national team appearance in 2019 looking to improve on a best score of 21 runs in three prior meetings with Nepal.

National coach Bilal Asad said: "The team comprise senior players and new faces who have brought newfound vigour to the team.

"This has created a sense of hunger for success, and we believe now the sky's the limit for us."

Malaysia are winless in their last six T20I matches since beating Thailand at the 2020 ACC Twenty20 Cup, with just the tie against the Dutch to show.

Captained by Ahmad Faiz Noor, Malaysia open their campaign against Papua New Guinea at the Tribhuvan University ground tomorrow in the first T20I meeting against the world's 19th-ranked side.

The two countries have met three times previously in the 50-over format, with Malaysia winning by 65 runs in their last meeting at the 1998 ACC Trophy in Lalitpur, Nepal, after Papua New Guinea won the first two in 1994 (Nairobi) and 1996 (Petaling Jaya).

World No 33 Malaysia take on hosts Nepal, ranked 13th in the world, on Wednesday, looking for a third win in 11 T20I meetings before the return fixtures against Papua New Guinea and Nepal on Friday and Saturday respectively. The final is on April 4.

The national team will remain in Nepal to compete in a Pro Club Championship in Bhairahawa on April 8-16 against premier T20 clubs from Nepal, Bangladesh and India.

SQUAD - Ahmad Faiz Mohammad Noor (capt), Virandeep Singh (vice-capt), Ahmad Zubaidi Zulkifle, Nazril Abd Rahman, Ainool Hafizs Yatim, Pavandeep Singh, Sharvin Muniandy, Syed Aziz Syed Mubarak, Amir Azim Abd Shukor, Vijay Unni Suresh, Syazrul Ezat Idrus, Wafiq Irfan Zarbani, Ammar Zudhi Hazalan, Syahadat Ramli.

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