Jagat Tamata is Nepal’s national cricket squad’s head coach. He was appointed to the post after former Sri Lankan international Pubudu Dassanayke’s tenure as coach ended in November last year. Dassanayke’s tenure could not be extended following row in the cricket association. Onlinekhabar caught up with Tamata, who has been coaching the national side (junior and senior) for over two decades, to talk about the team’s preparation for the World Cricket League matches against Namibia, scheduled for April 16 and 18.
So how is the team preparing for the matches?
Overall, our preparation has been good. Initially we’d selected 39 players for the closed camp; we played six matches based on which we selected 25 players. After that we chose the best 18. Because we are playing the matches on our home ground, the players are putting in more hard work than before.
The final squad for the matches has been announced. What is your assessment of the composition of the team?
We selected the team looking at the conditions here. We have selected two extra spinners in Sandeep Lamichhane (leg spinner) and Sushan Bhari (left-arm orthodox). The U-19 captain Raju Rijal also makes it to the team as a middle order batsman and wicket keeper.
Are you happy with the effort the players are putting in?
The senior side last played an international match in November. Because of the problems in the association, we haven’t had the national tournament for three years. But still I see that the team has reached 85 per cent of its potential with the training we are conducting.
Will 85 per cent be enough to see the team through this time?
We still have a few more days to go. The hope is that the players are in 100 per cent match mode. Our senior team has always handled pressure extremely well, that too on home ground. We are used to playing before a big crowd, but the Namibian team may not be so apt at doing so. That is where we are at an advantage.
“The players we have selected reflect the team’s core strength. Our strength is our spin attack.”
The home advantage is there, but what do you think is the team’s core strength?
The players we have selected reflect the team’s core strength. Our strength is our spin attack.
Who will be your key spinner then?
Basanta Regmi is there, Shakti Gauchan is also there. If the conditions demand we might go in with four spinners. This time we have two more spinners in Sushan and Sandeep. Sushan has been performing exceptionally well in the past few months.
Namibia’s national side will be playing a four-day match against Afghanistan coming in to the game against Nepal. What is your assessment of their squad?
Nepal’s conditions are not easy for an African side like Namibia to come and play. The track we have here is low-scoring. Namibia are not used to playing on a track like this. They will also not get enough time to rest after the I-Cup match against Afghanistan. Their strength is in their batting. They may not have a superb side, but they have a balanced team.
You said that their strength is their batting. What about our batting?
This time we have options; in fact, we selected the team so that we have options. For example, we have Naresh who is going to open for us. We have Sagar and Gyanendra who can come in as Naresh’s partner. Yes, some of the players’ performance has not been consistent, but we have selected the team looking at the wicket here.
“This is a golden opportunity for us as we have home advantage. A win here will put us in a more comfortable situation.”
Talking about the WCL Division I, the team has lost two round already. Where do you think the team stands in the league?
This is a golden opportunity for us as we have home advantage. A win here will put us in a more comfortable situation. If we’d played the PNG game here in Nepal, we could have achieved a better result. But we are still hopeful.
Former coach Pubudu Dassanayke is back with the team. This time he’s been appointed consultant coach. What difference has his presence made?
Pubudu sir had been here for 3-4 years. The players like the way he trains them. In the years he was here, he got us good results. That is why the players are motivated to play better when he is around. They know that he is their best coach. I would say that his presence has added 5-10 per cent energy to the squad.
“I would say Pubudu’s presence has added 5-10 per cent energy to the squad.”
This is the first time that you are going into a major match as the team’s head coach.
I have been around for more than 20 years. Yes, this is a golden opportunity for me; it was my dream to coach the national side. The players have been very supportive; they respect me, and listen to me.
Anything you’d like to say to the fans?
The fans have always been supporting the national side. Please continue doing so. There are many who say that the team’s performance has been deteriorating in the past few matches, but I disagree. We are going to play better this time, and make the fans happy.