In Focus

I want to take Nepal to higher rank: Dassanayake

Former Sri Lankan and Canadian Cricketer Pubudu Dassanayake will be in Kathmandu next week as the coach of Nepali cricket team. Cricket Association of Nepal appointed 41-year-old Dassanayake for the job on August 23. Dassanayake, who guided Canada to the World Cup 2011 as a coach, is expected to take Nepali cricket to a higher level. In this scenario, Republica scribes Nabin Khatiwada and Binod Pandey spoke with Dassanayake over the telephone on Sunday.

How much do you know about Nepali cricket?
I´ve been following U-19 team but I don´t know much about the senior team. I´ve watched clips of some matches that are available on youtube. I´ve been reading about Nepali team on internet and I´m doing my preparation.

Do you know any player of the Nepali national team?
No. I don´t know anyone by name. I´m looking forward to meet them in Kathmandu.

Why were you interested to become Nepal´s coach?
During the World Cup, I had already made up my mind to step down as the coach of the Canadian team. Meanwhile, Mr Binay (CAN President Binay Raj Pandey) was in touch with me through emails asking me if I was interested in coaching the Nepali team. After a series of email, I decided to take the charge.

What are your plans and what do you hope to accomplish as Nepal´s coach?
I´m taking charge in a T20 environment which is all about performance. My focus would be on improving Nepal´s ranking. But focusing only on national team won´t have much impact. We have to develop it from age groups to have a solid base for cricket development.

You are taking over from Roy Dias, your compatriot. How do you feel?
Roy is a great player and coach. He was technically correct batsman for Sri Lanka. I´ve heard there are good players in Nepal too. Taking over from him, I´ll focus on improving the ranking and the performance of the Nepali teams. But before that, I´ll have to understand local system.

You are taking charge just before the ACC T20 tournament at home. You are aware that home matches draw strong crowd who demand best performance. How do you look at that challenge?
I´m used to tackling the home environment. I think it is going to be easier to make players perform well in home condition.

ACC T20 is also a passage for selection to T20 WC. What are your hopes?
We want to be on top four and qualify for the next round. We´ll give everything to be on the top four.

From what you have found out till now, what are the strengths and weaknesses of our team?
I´ve come to know that bowling and fielding are up to the marks. Batting under pressure seems to be the area of concern. I´ll work on improving it. Overall, I think we have a good chance at the upcoming tournaments.

How is cricket in Nepal different from cricket in Canada?
Canada started focusing on cricket only after south Asians started moving here. Baseball and Hockey are more popular than cricket here. But, cricket is one of the top sports in Nepal. Nepal has talented players.

Coaching job in an associate country is itself a tough job as sometimes team is not available even to train for a longer period. But, I´ve heard that Nepal do not have such problems.

How do you evaluate your tenure as Canada coach? And what legacy you want to leave as Nepal coach?
Qualifying for the World Cup was a tough challenge but we did it. I´m proud of the time I spent with Canadian team as a coach for three years and more.
I want to leave a mark in Nepal too. I want to take Nepal to the higher rank and possibly into the World Cup. More importantly, I want to create an environment that will be appreciated long after I leave the job.

When will you arrive in Kathmandu?
As per schedule, I´ll be in Kathmandu by September 29.