USA coach Pubudu Dassanayake has picked out Oman as the main threat to his team winning ICC WCL Division Four on home soil. Dassanayake is confident USA will finish in the top two and gain promotion after the last two-and-a-half weeks of training leading into the tournament that began with the Auty Cup series against Canada, which he says allowed the team to see its own flaws and work them out ahead of Saturday's tournament-opener against Bermuda.
"I think the build-up to this tournament, I'm very pleased," Dassanayake told ESPNcricinfo. "Playing the Auty Cup, we were just exposed in all departments and we planned what to do to get better for this tournament, analysing all three games against Canada.
"I'm very happy, the guys who stayed back, we were working very hard. They put in a lot of hours training and I think the build-up to the [warm-up] game we played [on Tuesday] against SCCA [Southern California Cricket Association], I'm very happy how the guys turned out in that game. Basically everybody has put in a lot of time, effort and hard work and I feel like everything is really ready to go on Saturday morning."
After USA's first match against Bermuda, they face Italy, which lost to the SCCA XI by 38 runs on Wednesday after failing to chase a target of 212. That came a day after a USA XI took down the local league representative side by 112 runs after posting a score of 286 for 8. The other two European sides in the tournament, Jersey and Denmark, were both beaten by a club side from Houston, Texas, by eight wickets and three wickets respectively, showcasing the strength of league cricket in the USA. It's one reason why Dassanayake isn't afraid to talk up his own squad's chances of promotion.
"Looking at the other teams, for me personally as a coach, I don't think that we'll have any threat, especially from the European teams," Dassanayake said. "We have so much talent. We just have to transfer that talent into performance. Oman is a good team because they were in the World [T20]. The last few months they've played quality cricket. That's the team for us to beat but overall, having said all these things, we're not going to relax any game. We need to just focus one game at a time and do our best every game."
One thing USA teams have lacked in the past, despite their immense talent, is good team chemistry built up in part through clearly defined roles for each player. Dassanayake says, though, that the lead-up to this tournament has seen that change, giving the team a solid platform for a successful event.
"Our strength is currently is that everybody is playing together and they take care of each other," Dassanayake said. "We started knowing the strengths of each other and are very clear in their roles. That's actually what I was looking for coming into this tournament. That is what we didn't have against Canada in the Auty Cup.
"In the last eight days, there's a huge change in the atmosphere within the team. So I think that's a really big plus point for the USA team. But again, in saying these things, it's very important the first day of the tournament getting that momentum, start winning and start enjoying the wins. When the team does well, they need to feel that and that's how you build the winning atmosphere in the team."