Thinley Namgay

The senior national men’s cricket team of Bhutan is set to make history as they compete against Indonesia in their inaugural face-off at the Asian Cricket Council’s (ACC) Men’s Challenger Cup today in Bangkok, Thailand.

In Group A, Bhutan is joined by Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Cambodia, while Group B consists of Singapore, Japan, Thailand, and the Maldives. This edition of the tournament introduces a fresh challenge for Bhutan as they are also scheduled to play against Cambodia for the first time.

The team, comprising 14 players and three officials, arrived in Thailand on January 30 to embark on their cricket journey. Vice Captain Ranjung Mikyo Dorji exudes confidence in winning the initial game and performing admirably throughout the tournament.

Notably, cricket is not widely popular in Indonesia and Cambodia, excluding Saudi Arabia. However, Mikyo points out the presence of expats in the teams of Indonesia and Cambodia, which could potentially impact the dynamics of the matches.

“I am confident of winning. This time, Team Bhutan has a good mix of seniors as well as youngsters,” Mikyo added.

Bhutan Cricket’s Chief Executive Officer, Damber S Gurung, shared insights into the team’s preparation, mentioning that they engaged in nine friendly matches in Assam, India, against local clubs.

This initiative aimed at helping the team acclimate to the warm environment, ensuring they are well-prepared for the challenges ahead. Gurung expressed confidence in the leadership of captain Thinley Jamtsho, an all-rounder, and coach Kencho Norbu, a seasoned former national player.

The stakes are high in this tournament, as the top two teams will secure a spot in the prestigious 2024 ACC Men’s Premier Cup. Additionally, the competition plays a crucial role in the qualification pathway for the 2025 Asia Cup.

The tournament, set to conclude on February 11, brings back memories of Bhutan’s performance in the first edition last year. In March, Bhutan faced Bahrain, Iran, and the Maldives, securing victory against the Maldives and finishing second in the group stage.