Bhutan to participate in the ICC T20 Men’s World Cup Sub Regional Asia ‘B’ Qualifier

Rinzin Norbu

The ICC T20 Men’s World Cup Sub Regional Asia ‘B’ Qualifier will be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from July 24 to August 2. Teams will vie for a place in the ICC T20 World Cup. Before the main event, Bhutan’s team will undergo a pre-tour in Johor, Malaysia, playing five practice matches to analyze strengths and weaknesses.

Head coach Trishane Nonis highlighted the team’s rigorous preparation and the importance of this tournament for Bhutan cricket’s future. He said, “This is also the World Cup T20 World Cup qualifiers, which will be held in Malaysia. Altogether, there are five countries, including Bhutan. Leading up to this tournament, we had the domestic T20 smash, and from that, we picked the squad based on their performance. We have selected 14 players. If you take Bhutan, from the time they started playing international cricket, the weakness has been batting. From day one, I have been focusing a lot on improving the batting and bringing it together, and that has been working for us. I hope it will work well again because we have a good bowling attack”.

“What matters is for the batters to put runs on the board for the bowlers to defend. So, I hope in this tournament, we will be able to do that. Adapting to the situation is very important, and that is an area where we are a bit weak, but with more experience, the players will improve. For example, Bhutan has played nine T20 internationals, and most of the players have played seven T20 internationals. About seven players here have played those seven T20 internationals, but with more exposure, Bhutan cricket will be very handy in the years to come. In this tournament, Malaysia is the highest-ranked team, followed by Bhutan, then Thailand, and the rest, he added”

“Our biggest challenge will be Malaysia. During my time, we have lost to them three times, but we have beaten Thailand. We can’t take Thailand lightly as well. Whatever team strategy the other teams have, I believe we can overcome their resistance with the unity we have. That is what Bhutan cricket is all about – the tradition, culture, and spirit of the team. Regardless of our skill level, with unity, we can be winners because everyone is aware of what we are up to. This is not a club team or a school team; this is a national team. They should realize that when we fly from Bhutan, we carry a lot of hopes, the nation’s hopes, and we carry the flag. So, we should keep that flag flying. This is what I advise the boys, and this is what I expect from them as well,” he further added.

Thinley Namgay, the vice-captain said, “‘We have practiced very hard, although we didn’t have much time. I don’t know if we will win or lose, but we will give our best and hope for the best.”

Similarly, the team captain, Suprit Pradhan, expressed their determination to inspire and unite their fellow Bhutanese, “I think it is always a proud moment for any athlete to represent Bhutan in an international tournament. Personally, having played cricket for almost ten years, this is the first time I am leading the Bhutan national team in an international tournament. I am very excited about it. I know there will be big challenges ahead, but I believe that with the recent success in basketball, we can generate a lot of enthusiasm for sports among the youth. We want to set a similar example with cricket and do well for Bhutan. Our main area of focus during practice has always been to improve fitness”.

“We learned from our previous tournament that most athletes, especially from countries where cricket is played professionally, are much fitter and stronger than us. I personally believe that working on fitness is the top priority, followed by skills and practicing on the tough wicket in Gelephu. We did participate in a quadrangular series in Malaysia in July 2022. To be frank, I think our team did quite well. We played 7 matches and won 4 out of 7,” he added.
“I understand that there are a lot of changes in the team, with 7 new players. However, considering the experience of the other 7 players who have played in Malaysia before, I think we should be good enough to have a fair idea of how it is to play there. Thanks to Bhutan Cricket, they have arranged a 10-day pre-tour camp in Johor, which should help the boys acclimate to the weather and the situation there. I believe it is better to focus on preparing ourselves well rather than worrying about what others think. If we are prepared to face the worst, then in the unpredictable game of cricket, we can defy any opinion. For me, it is important to stay in the right frame of mind, give our best, practice hard, and leave the rest to the almighty,” he concluded.

Bhutan National Cricket Team left for Malaysia on July 14. Bhutan will face Myanmar, Malaysia, China, and Thailand in the qualifiers.

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