Bhanu Sigdel, Nepal : As the battle against Test-playing giants looms, Nepal sped up their preparations for January 23 to February 14 ICC U-19 World Cup to be held in Bangladesh.
Nepal are drawn in a tough pool ever in their 17-year history having pitted against India, Australia and New Zealand in Group ‘D’. But coach Jagat Tamatta, who will be the first home-grown coach to lead Nepal in the Under-19 World Cup, takes it both as challenge as well as an opportunity.
“This (World Cup), no doubt, is a big opportunity for us. We have a young squad and the tough draw obviously demands a better preparation and performance. Our boys are excited,” said Tamatta during a training session at the Tribhuvan University grounds on Wednesday. Tamatta is training 22 players with Himanshu Dutta, Nandan Yadav, Irshad Ahmed, Sandip Lamichhane, Avinash Bohora, Sagar Bhandari and Avinash Karn being the new faces.
After the second phase of training, CAN will announce the final 15-member squad that will leave for a probable pre-tournament preparation camp to India. “We are concentrating on players’ mental and physical strength. Our performance in World Cup will depend a lot on how we shape ourselves during training sessions and warmup matches,” said Tamatta.
Tamatta said his side will have a perfect preparation if CAN’s plan to set up a camp in India materialises. “We will train for 20 more days in Kathmandu and at the end of December, a tour of India has been planned. If we get four or five matches there, it will be ideal platform because we will leave for Bangladesh a bit earlier in hope of playing at least one game ahead of the two official warmup games (against Pakistan and Sri Lanka),” the coach added.
Raju Rijal, who is all but certain to retain captaincy, believed the extensive batting training in Kathmandu will be key to their performance in Bangladesh. “During the U-19 World Cup Qualifiers in Malaysia, our middle and lower middle order had to handle pressure. But things have changed since then,” said Rijal. “We are giving more time to openers to stay at the crease to make sure they develop the knack of forging good partnerships. They are gaining maturity and that’s a good sign for us,” said Rijal adding the run-up to the tournament will be crucial.
“We are playing World Cup and rubbing shoulders against tough teams requires mental strength. Pre-tournament preparations will be crucial for us. Our objective in the World Cup is to prove that we are able to play good cricket,” said Rijal.
In the current squad dominated by allrounders, Aarif Sheikh, Dipendra Airee, Saurav Khanal, Rajbir Singh, Sushil Kandel, Prem Tamang, Sunil Dhamala, Sandeep Sunar, Dipesh Shrestha, Lalit Narayan Rajbanshi, Shankar Rana, Kushal Bhurtel and Yogendra Karki were the part of the team that won the global Qualifiers in Malaysia in October.