As Nepali national cricket team is all set to leave Kathmandu on Sunday for the ICC World T20 Qualifiers to be held in the UAE from next week, skipper Paras Khadka defines the tournament as an opportunity rather than a challenge for his team.
It is only the way for Nepal to reach World T20 to be held in Bangladesh in 2014. The participating 16 teams are slated in two groups for the qualifiers. The winners of both the groups will directly qualify for the World T20 while teams within top five in each group get into the second round of the qualifiers. Top six teams of the qualifiers will get tickets to Bangladesh.
In this circumstances coach Pubudu Dassanayake aims to top the group and qualify directly to the World T20. “My target is to top the group and right away qualify for the world cup,” said Dassanayake.
Nepal is slatted in the group B of the qualifiers along with Afghanistan, Scotland, the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Bermuda and Denmark.
“We are in the tough group as there are four teams with ODI status. Afghanistan looks to be the strongest,” said Dassanayake. “However, we had lost to Afghanistan by only three runs in the last encounter. We are at their level and we want keep the level and better it,” he added.
Dassanayake is well aware about the preparations done by the opponents but equally happy with his own team.
“All the teams have been preparing very well but important part is how we start the tournament. We take one game at a time and hope for winning start in the qualifiers,” said Dassanayake.
Dassanayake said that the preparation works in the last four months gave him the confidence to excel. “We have been working for last three to four months. Every plan went accordingly. Boys are fit. We are really keen to go, perform and prove that we belong to that level,” said Dassanayake.
“I would have still loved to have little bit of longer preparation outside the country but no complain. We have bunch of players working morning to evening to do well,” he added.
According to Dassanayake, Pradeep Airee and Subash Khakurel will open Nepali innings in Dubai. “We tried out different combinations during the India tour to try and see different players at different role. Now, Pradeep and Subash are going to take opening duty,” said the coach.
When asked about Nepali batting line-up and growing concern following the short knocks of Nepali batsmen during the India tour, Dassanayake argued that he has a settled T20 batting line-up. “Everyone had short knocks in India. But in T20 format, their roles could be short but they should be sharp and click in the right time. We have an experience middle order and a balance team,” claimed Dassanayake.
Besides spin attack, the regular strength of Nepali side, Dassanayake is expecting good performance from Nepali pacers — Amrit Bhattarai, Jitendra Mukhiya and Avinash Karn. “All three have improved. They are capable of doing well. I believe they are very well aware about their roles in the team,” said Dassanayake.
Nepal will take on Denmark on November 15 in its first match of the qualifiers. Nepal will then lock horns with Kenya on Nov 16, Scotland on Nov 18, PNG on Nov 19, the Netherlands on Nov 20, Afghanistan on Nov 22 and Bermuda on Nov 23.