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30 November 201517:19

Rumana and Ayasha: Driving Bangladesh hopes in ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier

All-rounder and opener have performed exceedingly well to help the team reach the top of Group A and seal a spot in the semi-finals

Rumana and Ayasha: Driving Bangladesh hopes in ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier - Cricket News

Rumana Ahmed had just won the Player of the Match award for her 3 for 9 in Bangladesh's emphatic eight-wicket win over Scotland on Sunday (November 29), but, it would appear, there was no question of resting on laurels. Even as her team-mates basked in the jubilation of a well-earned win that took them to the top of Group A and assured the side a semi-final spot, she followed her coach in a run around the Asian Institute of Technology grounds in Bangkok, completing her laps under an unforgiving sun.

Rumana is an allrounder. But it is the 24-year-old's legspin that has caught the eye in recent times. She has five wickets from Bangladesh's first two games in the ICC Women's World T20 Qualifier, including the prize wicket of the experienced Kari Anderson on Sunday. Her seven overs so far have gone for a miserly 14 runs – and three of those were maidens.

In fact, in her last five limited-overs games, she has picked up ten wickets.

With figures like those in conditions far from the turners she benefits from back home, she's been an integral part of the formidable Bangladesh bowling attack in Thailand. The No. 9 team was always going to pose a strong challenge in the tournament, but the bowlers have delivered most vocally their statement of intent by keeping both sets of opponents so far to less than 55. While Thailand was bundled out for 32, Scotland could go no further than 53.

Rumana is confident in her bowling, but, she makes it clear, “My first priority is batting.”

“She also did well in Pakistan, she was a high scorer,” points out Shafique-ul-Haque, former Bangladesh captain and manager of the women's team, with a ready reminder, of his ward. Indeed, Bangladesh lost both T20Is and One-Day Internationals on that tour in September-October 2015, but Rumana's 70 from 97 balls in her team's total of 194 in the first ODI stood out.

Another name on the Bangladesh team-sheet that's being taken in the same breath and mentioned in the headlines along with Rumana, is that of Ayasha Rahman, the opener.

Unlike most other teams in the competition, Bangladesh arrived in Thailand a little over a day before the start of the ICC Women's World T20 Qualifier, giving it very little practice on these pitches. While the bowlers seem to be, in the words of their captain, “managing”, the batters perhaps are yet to be fully tested, especially under pressure situations.

Among them, standing steadfast in her consistency, is Ayasha. Her 32-ball 30 against Thailand was the highest score, while against Scotland, she was able to find the gaps and her 24 helped to draw level before she was run out. Only once in her last six T20 games has she failed to get at least to 20; one of those scores is a half-century, against Zimbabwe at home.

The Bangladesh captain, Jahanara Alam, was quick with her praise for the duo, singling them out in a side that has come together well. “They (the players) supported me very well,” she said after the game. “I hope [for the same] help for the next match.”

Bangladesh meets Papua New Guinea in its final match in Group A, at AIT, on Tuesday. After that is the all-important semi-final, which will decide the two qualifying teams. Alam is hoping her side keeps up its form. “The most difficult match will be the semi-final,” says Alam. “After that it will be OK.”