KATHMANDU: Nepal’s national cricket coach Pubudu Dassanayake had openly talked about his team’s lack of intensity when his side was outplayed by Afghanistan in the ACC Twenty20 Trophy semi-finals in Kathmandu last year.
After three months of hard work, Dassanayake was a proud man when Nepal finished seventh in the 16-team ICC World Twenty20 Qualifiers in Dubai. Nepal’s impressive display in Dubai came after they qualified for the
event as a bottom ranked team by virtue of finishing fourth in the ACC Twenty20 Trophy on home soil.
Dassanayake was finally a relieved man with Nepal’s historic title triumph in Malaysia in the ICC World Cricket League Division-IV earlier this month. The Division-IV victory not only gave Nepal a promotion to Division-III but also kept them alive in the race to 2015 Cricket World Cup – a place where Dassanayake has always wanted his team to be.
More than the success in Malaysia, the coach along with his entire team is over the moon after they came out of their submissiveness in the international stage. Nepal were often criticised for choking in crunch matches with the team relying on other teams’ results.
But, a different story unfolded in Malaysia when Nepal ended up as the only unbeaten team with thumping victories in all the six matches they played. There was no room for critics when batsmen began talking with the bat — centuries from openers Subash Khakurel and Anil Mandal was just examples.
Binod Das — who impressed with the new ball in his comeback tournament — knows the status of the current team. “We used to be a bit defensive in our thinking process and approach. We doubted ourselves whether our plans would work or not. Now we have built as a different team with huge amount of winning attitude,” said the former skipper while taking a short break from training at the TU Stadium. Binod also credited his coach for changing the team’s attitude. “He (Dassanayake) is the one who stands behind us and keeps on pushing forward along with the captain,” added Binod.
The coach himself said his boys are instilled with huge amount of intensity. “These are the same boys when I came here two years back. The only thing that has changed is their mindset,” said Dassanayake who tasted victory in his first 50-over assignment with the senior team. “There was a time when we used to be nervous. When we walked to the ground, we didn’t know what we were doing,” he recalled. “But, now we have crossed the boundary line. We want to win every time, no matter who ever our opponents be,” said the coach.
Dassanayake has reasons over team’s transformations. “There are a lot of factors. Senior players like Shakti (Gauchan) and Binod have done pretty well in their comeback. Skipper Paras —coming back from Canada and backing the team with huge amount of confidence — has been crucial for us. To add to the batting strength, Subash alone has played around 150 overs in the last three months,” he added.
Skipper Paras, however, warned the team not to be buoyed by the achievement. “The confidence at the moment is sky high but the thing is that we have just started. We still have a long way to go. We need to focus on the areas to improve instead of basking in the glory of the feat,” said a circumspect captain.