When Nepal went into the ICC World Twnety20 Qualifiers they were the bottom-most seeded teams. All the teams were had played Div 3 or above, Nepal had the highest as Div 4. Nepal was considered a better team in the ODI format and was not expected to make much impact in the T20 format
But the team under the new Dynamic coach Pubudu Dassanayke surely exceeded all the expectations. To start with they came 7th in the tournament and in the process defeated teams like former World Cup semi-finalists Kenya, Former World Cup team Bermuda, along with Div 2 teams PNG, HK, and Div 3 (Now 4) team Denmark.
The team had many positives from the tournament and some before them. Before the tournament, there were some reshuffles in CAN. Elections also took place. Then a small step towards Central Contracts was taken. A stipend of 5000 Rs was started for all the players.
On the field, the batting showed some promise. Batsmen were able to have the confidence to try some new shots. Spin bowling always a strength that came in full strength through Shakti Gauchan. The team could be seen challenging the bigger names like Canada.
Having said all that the tournament also exposed some areas where it needs to address them very seriously if it wishes to be along with the likes of Afghanistan and Ireland.
1. Pacers (Fast Bowling)
The best teams in the tournament had some of the best pacers be it Dawlat Zadran the sensational pacer of Afghanistan or be it Boyd Rankin of Ireland. The best test teams have always have had some form of Battery of Pacers, be it Bret Lee, McGrath or Allan Donald or Wasim Akram, Shoaib Akhtar.
Indians who are not known to have the best Pace Battery but always have a Pacer who is a match-winner. Zaheer Khan was critical for India and helped them win the World Cup.
Presently Nepal does not have a quality pace attack and without them, it would struggle. This is an area that is ultra-critical to Nepal and its cricket future. The coach has already taken an effort where he went with a speed gun but alas not many results. Not to be demoralized with the same, the management simply needs to go on a nationwide hunt of a pacer. They need to get some young, raw talent and develop him for the future. If you know someone who shares about him and helps your national team
Keeping the 2015 World Cup in sight this effort should start immediately without any delay.
The way team played and gave against Netherlands and Canada was a case of pressure taking over the team and not because they were inferior to these teams. The team did play some practice matches against local clubs in Delhi and sources tell that CAN was not even ready for that. They did not many hopes from the team and want to “waste” money on the effort
Exposure plays a critical role in building the team temperament and lets the captain and coach know much more about the players. Taking a cue from my old times, when I played cricket after a long time I was rusty. The rustiness was over, but playing cricket inside my gully team brought saturation in the learning curve. It was when we played more matches against other teams that we could explore our own strengths and weakness and how to overcome the X factor
Similarly, the Nepal team playing closed camps will saturate. Many players have openly stated the need for the same. If the team had got to be a part of Ranji in 2003-4 then it could have been on the lines of Bangladesh. That opportunity though lost and letting past be the past the management should give the team more exposure.
The exposure can be either playing the domestic league either in India or Sri Lanka. It could also mean inviting another Associate team like Afghanistan, Ireland, UAE to come and play matches in all 3 forms. The team could also tour other countries where it can get exposure to different conditions.
This would need CAN to get out of its rusty setup and think for the future and be more assertive in contacting more boards. Ireland has been very aggressive on this aspect and it has helped them over time. Such was the impact that the team has performed really well, but also even though Ireland suffered one of the worst cases of the European Crisis, the team never lost a sponsor.
These would be very critical times for the Nepal team. The coach has been making the right impact, but he surely needs help from the Board on the above 2 factors. The coach gets that then the team surely can knock on the doors of the top 10 nations. Best of luck.