Nepal will take the ACC U-19 Premier in Malaysia, slated for August 28-September 3, as an opportunity to prepare for the upcoming ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier.
Coach Jagat Tamatta is hopeful of winning the trophy of the ACC U-19 Premier. “The players are fit and fine, both mentally and physically, and I am pinning hopes on these cricketers to bring in the trophy from Malaysia,” said Tamatta, the chief cricket coach of National Sports Council.
“We had a good training of 45 days and the best 14 players have been picked from a pool of 45 cricketers,” said Tamatta. “We have eight all-rounders in the team with four each spinners and medium pacers. The batting aspect is also strong but we need to get a good start as we have strong middle and lower order to bat.”
Nepal’s top opponents in the six-team U-19 Premier would be defending champions Afghanistan, hosts Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. While the Afghans fine-tuned their preparation against Sri Lanka U-19, the well-facilitated Malaysians and the UAE have lifted their standard in the age-group cricket of late.
With monsoon at its peak, Nepali boys have managed to undergo a 45-day of training, thanks to the newly built indoor facilities. The only area that Tamatta regrets is the inability of playing full (practice) matches.
Asked about the opponents, Tamatta said all the teams were of similar standard. “All the teams are beatable and it will not be very hard to win the trophy if we perform to our potential,” said Tamatta. “If the openers give 50-run start, we can post 200-plus total on the board, which is enough for us to defend,” he said.
Skipper Raju Rijal urged the team members to stay confident and perform to their potential. “We have done a lot of hard works in training and there are lots of expectations from us,” said Rijal. “We have to perform well as we will be playing for the nation,” he added. Arif Sheikh, Dipesh Shrestha, Saurav Khanal, Prem Tamang, Sushil Kandel, Dipendra Airee, Sunil Dhamala, Shankar Rana, Yogendra Singh Karki, Sandip Sunar, Raj Bir Singh, Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi and Ashish Dhami are the other members in the team.