KATHMANDU, May 26: Coach Pubudu Dassanayake has taken up new challenges by coaching the Nepali U-19 cricket team by instilling new mindset after helping national cricket team finish seventh in qualifying for the ICC World T20 Qualifiers.
The coach is busy from dawn to dusk at the TU Cricket Ground with his assistants Jagat Tamata and Manjur Alam Khan as 24 young cricketers are under the closed camp training for the upcoming U-19 Asia Cup to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from June 23 to July 1.
Dassanayake, who used to ask national team players for innovation and power hit during the T20 games, has been dealing with new age group and new formats of the game. However, he has still been asking innovation with players.
"I know, I´m preparing for the tournaments of different age group and different format. However, I would like to see them play their shot. You should be innovative and creative to score in any format of cricket," said Dassanayake. "T20 deals more with power hitting whereas 50-over games are all about building innings. I´m always asking boys to build innings this time," he added.
Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) has called up all the 14 members of Nepali U-19 team that helped the country qualify for the ICC U-19 World Cup and 10 other players selected on the basis of performances in the recently concluded Wai Wai U-19 National Cricket Tournament. The 24 players have been undergoing the closed camp training for the last one week and played three practice matches within themselves in last three days.
"Boys are following my instructions. In the three matches, only once the batting team was bundled out before playing all 50 overs. Otherwise, boys are batting till the end of the 50 overs," said Dassanayake.
Dassanayake said his focus was not only for the U-19 Asia Cup but for the upcoming ICC U-19 World Cup to be held in Australia from August 11 to 27.
"As the training is going well, we are not only planning and preparing for Malaysian wickets but also for Australian wickets. We have grass on the practice wickets, which are bouncy as well," said Dassanayake.
"I know, Malaysian wickets will be flat. However, we are taking good sides like India and Pakistan in Malaysia and our batsmen will surely face pace and bounce," he added.
Some senior team pacers were also assisting Dassanayake to train U-19 fast bowlers. According to Dassanayake, former national captain Binod Das has been spending days with U-19 boys while pacers Amrit Bhattarai and Chandra Saud will join Dassanayake from Saturday.
"I come everyday during the net-practice of the U-19 team. I´m bowling few balls myself and teaching boys whatever I know," said Das.
If Das is to believe, the pacers lack experience and fitness as they have played very few matches.
"Players believe they need to be physically fit only after coming to the national side but it should be the opposite. Some U-19 players like Prithu Baskota and Pradeep Airee are fit enough as they were also in the national side. However, other boys are also progressing," said the coach.
Dassanayake said he wants top eight batsmen for the U-19 team. "Senior guys (the 14 members of Nepali U-19 team that helped the country qualify for the ICC U-19 World Cup) are doing well and we´ll also try to find 2-3 new guys in the team," said Dassanayake.
He said he would meet the selectors in the coming week and ask them to bring the players number down to 19 from 24. "We are currently training a very big group. If we bring it down to 19 by next week, we´ll get more time to spend with individual players," said Dassanayake.
Saud, Bhattarai to play in Sri Lanka
Nepali national cricket team coach Pubudu Dassanayake said Nepali fast bowlers Chandra Saud and Amrit Bhattarai have been called by Sri Lanaka Port Authority Cricket Club to play in the U-23 Inter Club Tournament of Sri Lanka.
"They will go Sri Lanka by the end of this month. They will join the U-19 closed camp on Saturday to assist me and to practice," said Dassanayake.
According to Dassanayake, his friend Sajid Fernando is looking after the club team and he has called both the Nepali players in the club. "The club will provide them a place to stay and we should bear rest of the expenses. Some private parties are interested to support these players. We´ll finalize everything by next week," said Dassanayake.
According to the former Sri Lankan player, he has been looking at the possibility to send batsmen Gyanendra Malla and Anil Mandal to play in the Sri Lankan tournament. "I´m hopeful I can arrange for Gyanendra and Anil also," he said.