Apurva Desai is currently working in the capacity of Nepali national cricket team batting consultant for the upcoming ACC Asia Cup Qualifier which is scheduled for in Malaysia. Although Desai hardly has a haul of experience in his playing career, Desai had focused much in a coaching career. Cricketingnepal.com spoke with Desai ahead of the Qualifier and talked about Nepal’s chances, his own stint with the team and Nepali cricketers overall. Excerpts:
Q. Ahead of the Asian Cup Qualifier, how do you find the Nepali team?
A. I think the combination is good. They are on a roll. They are already into the season where they have played so many matches. I’ll say they are match fit. Their batting order looks settled. Its just those small things which we have been working on for the last few days and will continue to do so. Its about building partnerships and get those middle overs sorted so that we have enough firepower in the end. That’s what we are looking at otherwise the bowling looks sorted. We have one important batsman missing out otherwise others are ready to step up.
Q. What is one particular thing that you are looking at in Nepali batsmen?
A. Its about converting the starts. I think they are all good enough to play at that level. There are about two or three senior batsmen and youngsters, if they turn into building partnerships. That was what we were doing in the match simulations. That’s the core if they can step up and understand their responsibility. Once they get the start, they need to carry on because the wickets in Malaysia are similar to what we are going to get in Sri Lanka during practice matches. These guys have played there and they know the opposition and the bowlers. Its an added advantage when you know what you are going to get. Its all about backing yourself and doing it.
Q. What is the difference that you can find between the batsmen in Nepal and those from the Test countries?
A. If put it in general, technically they are not far behind. Tactically, I think its the exposure as much as they get, they will keep on getting better and better. Because for them right now, the exposure is straight away the tournaments. You can imagine that they play a qualifier and play another qualifier but in between if they can get to participate in some tournaments, that’s where they will understand their game better. But, I don’t see them very far behind if you compare them to newly coming teams like Ireland, Scotland or even Afghanistan.
Q. From the time you have taken over, what is the strongest aspect of the Nepali team?
A . I think they are very honest guys in the sense of ready to accept what they have and what they don’t. They are willing to learn which is very fine. Lot of times, we find that people don’t come with open minds. Here they are willing to learn and go that extra step. I think the hunger is very much there to do better. And I am happy with that.
Q. Which is one aspect you see Nepal can need to work on to qualify for Asia Cup?
A. Building partnerships and understanding each other’s roles. Anybody who is in there whether he is bowling or batting at that point of time has to own it up that I am gonna do the job and I am gonna finish. They are willing to go that extra step. They are understanding that they need to do it. The first step is through and now they have to do it under pressure situations.
Q. How does it feel to work for a team like Nepal which is trying to make mark in international cricket?
A. Obviously, its a fantastic opportunity for me and to Nepal to get that ODI status out of so many countries. Its unbelievable. With the limited exposure they get and facilities they have, they have done an outstanding job. Four years back, who would have thought they played Division 3 and 4 and now get an ODI status. You’re competing with the best in the world. I am really happy and think they can step up.
Q. How long can you go with the Nepali team?
A. It all depends on how we go. Right now the focus is only on the Asia Cup Qualifier. I guess its one stop at a time. Because more than me, its the boys who need to accept. If I can build that trust and build that bridge, we can go a long way. Hopefully.