KATHMANDU, Jan 3: Following the batting debacle in the ACC Women´s T20 Asia Cup, Nepali women´s national cricket team has been concentrating on batting in the closed-camp training for the upcoming ACC Women´s Championship.
Nepal was all out for 58 runs while chasing a 79-run target against Sri Lanka in the first match of the T20 Asia Cup held in China in October. Likewise, Bangladesh had bowled Nepal out for 45 runs and to add to Nepal´s woes, associate cricket nation China had also bundled Nepal out for a paltry total of 47.
"Though we have the ability to play shots, our batting failed in China. It was probably due to lack of enough practice," said national team captain Rubina Chhetri.
"Our team is always relatively better in bowling and fielding and we are focusing on batting this time," said Chhetri. "Our batswomen have shown tremendous progress," she added.
Mamta Thapa in action. (Photo: Bijay Rai)
Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) had called up 25 players for the closed-camp training on December 18, shortlisted 18 players from among them last week and selected the final 14 on Wednesday.
"We saw batting collapse in China. Therefore we are determined to rectify those mistakes. However, we have a lot to improve in bowling and fielding also," said Jamil Ansari, the coach of the women´s team.
"As a captain, I learned a lot from the defeats in China. I didn´t let it affect my morale and took the tournament as a learning procedure instead," said Chhetri.
Nepali U-19 women´s team had made its international debut in the first ACC U-19 Women´s Championship in 2008 and lifted the trophy on the occasion. Jamil Ansari was the coach of the team then.
Ansari has taken charge of the national team for the second time in the past four years and he is optimistic about winning the second title for the country.
(Photo: Bijay Rai)
"We have chance of winning the trophy as I have witnessed progress in players," said Ansari.
Nery Thapa, Trishna Singh, Mamta Thapa, Sonu Khadka, Roshani Bohara and Sita Rana were the members of the U-19 squad in 2008 and they are in the current closed-camp training also.
"We can´t compare a U-19 team and a national team. However, I have noticed tremendous progress in individuals," said Ansari. "As a coach, I can see progress and changes in terms of technique and skill in every individual player," he added.
World Cup dream
ACC Women´s Championship, a 25-over tournament, is the first step toward Women´s World T20 qualification. The winner of the championship will qualify for the *Women´s World Cup Qualifiers to be held in Ireland in August.
"It is a big opportunity for us. We are confident and as players, we all are dreaming of qualifying for the World Cup," said captain Chhetri.
"It is an important tournament as a qualifier. However, our main aim for now is to win the tournament in Thailand," said coach Ansari.
Suppor from Dassanayake and Tamata
National cricket coach Pubudu Dassanayake and another experienced coach Jagat Tamata are helping Ansari in building a strong women´s team.
"We are supporting the team in planning training programs and teaching basics to the players," said Tamata. "Pubudu is on leave for a week but he will return soon and help this team more," added Tamata.
According to Tamata, the woman cricketers have low fitness level. "I´m working to increase the fitness level of players. I am happy to see every individual putting in a lot of hard work. By the time the tournament begins, I expect a 50-60 percent improvement in the fitness level," said Tamata.
"Only some girls in the team have killer instinct while approaching match and some have problems in handling pressure situation. Pubudu and I have been motivating them to achieve such qualities," Tamata added.
The women´s tournament, a part of the Asian Cricket Council calendar, is scheduled to be held in Thailand from January 21 to 31.
Nepal has been slated in Group A of the tournament along with Hong Kong, Malaysia, Bhutan, the UAE and Afghanistan. Nepal will take on Afghanistan on January 23 in its first group stage match.
Chaulagain, Rawal excluded
CAN announced the final squad for the tournament Wednesday under the captainship of Rubina Chhetri.
The team includes former captains Neera Rajopadhyay and Nery Thapa, Sita Rana Magar, Karuna Bhandari, Sarita Magar, Roshani Bohara, Silu Rijal, Indu Verma and Trishna Singh. Shova Ale Magar, Mamta Thapa, Sonu Khadka and Madhu Thapa are also in the team.
Rashmi Sharma Chaulagain, Rekha Rawal, Sangita Gauchan and Saraswati Chaudhary are the reserve players of the national squad. Chaulagain and Rawal were part of the T20 Asia Cup squad.