World Cup is our target, Qualifier a gateway: Captain Baskota

KATHMANDU, July 24: Teenage cricketer Prithu Baskota, who made his national team debut in the 16th Asian Games, is the captain of Nepali U-19 team for the upcoming ICC U-19 World Cup Qualifiers. Baskota is the only player to lead Nepal in all age groups.

Nepali U-15 team won the ACC U-15 Elite Cup in 2006 in Malaysia under the leadership of Baskota. He, then, led Nepali team to win the ACC U-17 Elite Cup in 2009 in Kathmandu. Baskota was the vice-captain of the Nepali team that participated in the ACC U-19 Elite Cup 2009 in Kuwait, where Nepal could not reach the final for the first time in 10 years and missed the chance to play World Cup Qualifiers.

However, Nepali team reached the final of ACC U-19 Elite Cup held in Thailand earlier this year and secured its chance to play ICC U-19 World Cup Qualifiers, scheduled to be held in Ireland from July 28 to August 9. Nepali team, which spent a month and a half in closed camp training, will leave Kathmandu on Sunday. Top six teams of the ICC U-19 World Cup Qualifiers will secure berth in the U-19 World Cup scheduled to be held in Australia in 2012 and the Nepali youths are targeting one of the spots.

Republica scribe Nabin Khatiwada talked to Captain Baskota on the eve of departure of the Nepali team.

How was the closed camp training?

The training was good. We were in the closed camp training for a month and a half and we improved with every passing day. We are physically and mentally stonger after the training. We worked to improve in every departments of the game. Meanwhile, we know that the wickets in Ireland will be fast unlike slow wickets of Nepal and we are training to adjust with this during the game.

Will it be that easy to adjust in the conditions of Ireland?

It could have been better if we had reached Ireland earlier than our scheduled time but I´m confident we´ll adjust. We were trying to play quick shots on bowling machine expecting bouncy wickets in Ireland.

What would you say about Nepali U-19 team?

I think the current Nepali team is more balnaced than the team that took part in the ACC U-19 Elite Cup in Thailand. We have a medium pacer, a spinner and a batsmen added in the squad and it has enhanced our bench strength.

What are the strength and weakness of your team?

Spin attack is our most significant strength and we are good in fielding. Overall, we have a balanced team. I don´t see any particular weakness but I would like to say we are improving every day in all departments of the game.

How do you rate your opponents in the Qualifiers?

So far as I´m concerned, Afghanistan could be the toughest for us. European teams – Scotland and Ireland – might be the other tough challengers. We do not know much about other teams and keeping this fact in mind, we´ll take every match seriously.

If so, what is the target of the Nepali team?

We want to qualify for the World Cup. This World Cup could be the last U-19 tournament for many players in the squad if we qualify. We all have a dream of playing the World Cup and I´m hopeful we´ll achieve success.

How desperate are you for playing the World Cup?

In our team, only Rahul dai (Rahul BK) has World Cup experience. And, I already told you that we want to play the World Cup.

By Nabin Khatiwada for Republica