Following its dismal show in the ICC World Cup Qualifiers in New Zealand, Nepali players were given a 14-day rest before they geared up for the close camp session for the upcoming World T20 since February 14. The leisure time is expected to have infused fresh life and strengthened the psychology of the players ahead of embarking on their grandest stage till date.
One of the critical reasons attributed towards such performance in New Zealand — where the team suffered five consecutive defeats for the first time and remained unmoved from its ninth ranking — was playing under relentless pressure at the highest level in quick succession. Nepali players have hardly had rest for a week in the last eight months. The workload had taken its toll upon the players making them vulnerable to injuries. Skipper Paras Khadka played seven matches despite not being totally fit and opener Subash Khakurel missed the whole tournament. Their fitness issues had its toll upon the whole tournament and Nepali team failed to put up a good total.
Now that Paras and Subash have fully recovered coach Pubudu Dassanayake is hopeful about putting in a notable performance in Bangladesh.
“It´s a rare opportunity to show the world that we are a much better cricket playing nation,” he said. “Past does not count much. Our only current focus is World T20 to be held in Bangladesh. We exactly know what we really need to do there.”
Though there are some injury concerns, Dassanayake believes that the team will be in perfect shape before it leaves for an official one-week training in Dubai — a special arrangement by International Cricket Council for associate nations eyeing the showpiece tournament in Bangladesh.
“Prithu Baskota and Jitendra Mukhiya are not totally fit. They are currently under rehabilitation program. We will conduct a fitness test before leaving Nepal. There can be some changes in the squad if players do not pass the test. We will not be taking injured players but are optimistic that they will recover in time.”
Apart from working on the injuries, the team is painstakingly working in every department of the game along with the technical and tactical aspects.
Terming the performance in New Zealand as unfortunate, Dassanayake said that with the current squad, the team is hungry for results. “There is no doubt that results would have been different if we had the best team in New Zealand. Players were also disappointed. We are a much better team than Hong Kong, UAE and even Scotland. But that is past now. Now we want to prove the world that what happened in New Zealand was unfortunate. We are a team that deserves ODI status. Though we might have to wait for another four years to prove our mettle, the world would know then that Nepal is a country with good cricketers.
“We were in a mood to beat any team in Dubai. Now we are going to Bangladesh with the same spirit. We are hungry for the results because we don´t want to let down our fans,” he said.
Regarding his squad as the best combination, Dassanayake said he is looking forward to see non-performing players delivering at the crucial stage.
“There were many concerns regarding Sompal Kami and Jitendra being young and inexperienced to be a part of the team in New Zealand. But people should understand that they are the best we have. In fact, Sompal has the potential to emerge as the best bowler. Jitendra can deliver yorkers at any time and Avinash Karn is shaping up.
With hard work and maturity, they can climb higher than their predecessors. Anil Mandal and Mahesh Chhetry — who were dropped from the regular team and included as the reserves for Bangladesh — are suitable for the 50-over format. Basically, the concept was to stick with the same team in both the tournaments. Unfortunately, they did not perform and we need to strengthen our bench by keeping them out of the team. Plus we are carrying the extra spinner in Bangladesh.
Nevertheless, Gyanendra Malla, who has not been able to perform for a year now, has secured his place.
“Given his capability, it is unfortunate that he is underperforming but he is still the best batsman we have. If it was for an ACC tournament, it would have been justifiable to look for newcomers. Since we are playing in the biggest tournament ever, it is not appropriate to bring in new players in the team. It would be better for me to stick with the best players I have and try my best to get them in shape.”
Fans will be keeping their fingers crossed to see the best of their team in the biggest platform ever.
Note:- This story was published on February 19 on Reublica National Daily which is written by Krishna Dangi.