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Saturday, December 24, 2011

World Cup Dreams

Binod pandey,dec 23 2011

Not much is expected from Nepali team after ACC T20 Cup. Team’s batting was always a weak link, now bad bowling and fielding have put a question mark over Nepal’s T20 playing style. Many have started saying selection for T20 World Cup is daydream for Nepal.
Coach Pubudu Dassanayake has confidence that Nepal could qualify for the T20 World Cup, if everything goes according to the plan. “Despite criticism of our performance at ACC T20, I don’t think we played all that bad,” he said. “If you look at the average score at the TU Ground, we were not far behind.”
After reaching the semi-finals of ACC T20 Cup, Nepal qualified for the T20 World Cup qualifiers, that will be played during March 13-24 in UAE. According to the schedule, Nepal is pitted alnog with Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Netherlands, Canada, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Bermuda and Denmark in the group stage. Other group has Ireland, Scotland, Kenya, Namibia, Uganda, Oman, Italy and USA.
Afghanistan, Netherlands and Canada are teams with ODI status. Bermuda played in the 2007 World Cup. Nepal was defeated by PNG in previous two meetings. And this would be the first time Nepal faces Netherlands, Canada, Bermuda and Denmark. If past performances at T20 is viewed, Nepal looks the weakest team in the World Cup Qualiers.
After the draw was made public, former Sri Lankan cricketer Dassanayake is excited. “This is a very good draw. Both groups are similar. There’s nothing to complain.” Dassanayake said. “I like the structure of the tournament. It gives every team equal opportunity. Now we have to take some steps.”
Top 3 teams from both groups will compete for semi-final playoff, where top teams from both groups play in semis. The winner will directly be qualified to play the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka. The loser of semi-final will play in the playoff again. Two teams from the tournament go to the World Cup.
Dassanayake, who has taken Canada to the World Cup already, has a plan. “There has to be two-day tournament in January. Following national T20 championship, the selected players should taken to India or Sri Lanka for 7-8 practice matches. After that, if we can go to Dubai a week before the tournament and have some practice matches, we can do something,” He says, “It is a difficult challenge, not impossible. We have to play well.”
This is his plan for next 3 months for Nepali cricket. “If ODI status is a goal, tournament in UAE is Nepal’s test and Nepal has to perform like an ODI team,” he said, reiterating his commitment to change the cricket structure in the country, “In the 3-month plan, I have not only included 15 players, but entire cricket structure of Nepal.”
For that, Dassanayake is in search of a fast bowler. He has procured a ‘speed gun’ through his wife, who came to Nepal on Thursday. “A tearaway fast bowler make a lot of difference. He doesn’t need a lot of experience. With sheer pace, he can take the opening batsmen on backfoot and does not let them dominate.”
It was pace, which accounted for Nepal’s 9-wicket capitulation against Afghanistan, after winning against Hong Kong in a tense final over by a single wicket. Dassanayake takes another meeting with fellow Asian teams in 3 months as an opportunity. “Meeting Afghanistan in Sharjah is an opportunity. Wehave good possibility, because it is a batting wicket. It does not help the bowlers. We have to bowl according to that plan.”
The Nepal coach is impressed with Hong Kong’s performance in Kathmandu. “Hong Kong batting relied a lot on Irfan Ahmed and Munir Dar, but they played like a team. That’s what I am looking for, in Nepali team. Netherlands has Ryan ten Doeschate and Tom Cooper. Doeschate has IPL experience. Both need to be tied down. Bermuda, PNG and Denmark are also good teams.”
Dassanayake is also excited about match against Canada. “I’ve already received some emails from Canada. I am also waiting for the game.” He has already captained Canada. “If we compare player to player, Nepal is ahead. But they are Division 1 team, and get money from ICC. Since they are ODI team, they play a lot, also in Carribean domestic circuit. That ways, we need to catch up with them.”

[The write-up originally appeared in Nagarik (Nepali) national Daily on 23rd December, 2011]

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