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Pubudu Dassanayake set to return as Nepal national team head coach

Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) has decided to bring back Pubudu Dassanayake at the helm of Nepali national cricket team.

The Sri Lanka-born Canadian is all set to make comeback with the national team after four years having taken the charge as consultant coach during the 2017 ICC World Cricket League Championship matches.

The bold move precedes an apprehensive scenario where CAN top brass firmly believed Dassanayake was one of the reasons for its suspension from the International Cricket Council in 2016. He had also applied for the job when Dav Whatmore was appointed the coach before the Australian left the post in September.

Although Dassanayake was then considered an option, a majority of CAN members had reluctance over his appointment and, thus, Whatmore was roped in.

CAN, this time around, has decided to bury the hatchet and bring back Dassanayake again. He was chosen ahead of Indian coach Monty Desai whose appointment meant a huge financial burden for CAN.

“We were even ready to go over the budget ceiling for Monty but he has multiple engagements,” an accurate source within the cricket governing body said. “Pubudu has huge experience in Nepal and he is the only other right candidate beside Monty.”

While Desai has worked for Nepal as batting consultant, Dassanayake himself has never been away from Nepali cricket even during his four years of exile. He has been to Nepal twice to look for the Bhairahawa Gladiators franchise for the Everest Premier League.

Dassanayake is expected to be in Nepal by the third week of December and his immediate task will be to prepare the team for the 2022 ICC Twenty20 World Cup Qualifiers. Nepal are in Group A of the Qualifiers where they will face Ireland, Canada, Oman, the UAE, Philippines, Bahrain and Germany.

Nepal’s only appearance in ICC’s global stage came under Dassanayake when the country played the 2014 ICC Word Twenty20 in Bangladesh. Once languishing at the fourth rung of ICC ladder among the Associates, Dassanayake had laid the platform for Nepal to become and ODI nation.

Dassanayake will now not only be eyeing a return for Nepal in the Twenty20 World Cup but also face a challenge to retain the ODI status the country attained in 2018. Nepal are currently ranked sixth in the six-team ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 which sends the top three teams into the 2023 World Cup Global Qualifier.

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