Sports

Nepal qualify for Asia Cup

  • Defeat China by four wickets in a must-win last league game to secure a place in regional event as runners-up
- RAJU GHISING, Hong Kong

Oct 16, 2016-

Nepal qualified for the 2016 ACC Women’s Asia Cup to be held in Thailand this year after finishing runners-up in the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifying Series for Asia Region in Hong Kong on Saturday.

After losing a probable spot in the 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup Global Qualifiers, Nepal needed to defeat China in their last round robin league match and a six-wicket victory earned them a much-needed solace. Nepal accumulated six points in the table - four behind winners Thailand who had already qualified for the Qualifiers - and pushed behind China (four) and Hong Kong (four).

Nepal will now make their second appearance in the Asia Cup having played the tournament in 2012, directly qualifying for the event. With the ICC adopting qualifying playoffs, Nepal had missed out on a spot in 2014 Global Qualifiers following a third place finish in the 2013 ACC Women’s Championship. Nepal will now rub shoulders with Test playing giants of the region India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh alongside Thailand in November 25 to December 5 Twenty20event.

Nepal coach Raju Basnyat rued the missed chance for the Qualifier but was proud with the achievement.

“We proved ourselves as the best team in terms of skill in this tournament. We came a long way by improving ourselves match-by-match. With Asia Cup looming, we need to make sure that we prepare ourselves in the best possible way to beat the Test playing teams, which we are capable of,” said Basnyat.

In the match at the Mission Road Ground in Mong Kok, Nepal lost the toss for the first time in the tournament and restricted China to 85-7 in 20 overs. Nepal replied with 88-6 with 15 balls to spare despite losing opener Jyoti Pandey (three) and No 3 Nirmala Shahi (two) with just 10 runs on the board.

Another opener Sita Rana Magar and Indu Verma (10) consolidated the chase with a 25-run partnership for the third wicket. Rana Magar added another 19 runs for the fourth wicket with Nary Thapa as Nepal gradually inched towards victory. Rana Magar fell for 20 off 24 with one four. Thapa continued her fine form in the tournament making 27-ball 22 with one four and when she was dismissed Nepal were just seven runs away from victory.

Skipper Rubina Chhetri completed the chase hitting the winning boundaries. Chhetri was unbeaten on a nine-ball 13 with three fours.

Earlier, Nepal had to wait until the 12th over to get the breakthrough after openers Fengfeng Song and Zou Miao added 42 runs for the first wicket. Shahi ended the partnership having Miao stumped by Pandey as Nepal began gaining upper hand in the game with a disciplined bowling. Player-of-the-match Chhetri picked up two and Karuna Bhandari had one scalp in the middle order as China didn’t make most of a fine start.

Song was out for a painstaking 62-ball 34 in the 20th over without hitting a boundary. Miao made 33-ball 18. Chai Yudian (10) was China’s next best scorer and hit the only two boundaries of their innings. Nepal affected three run outs in the game.

Later in the day, Thailand capped a fine tournament crushing Hong Kong by seven wickets for a victory that ultimately benefited Nepal. Batting first, Hong Kong made 83-7 before Thailand reached 86-3 in 18.5 overs with opener and player-of-the-match Sirintra Saengsakaroat carrying the bat making 36 not out.

Published: 16-10-2016 07:32

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