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Bangladesh and Sri Lanka start with easy wins in ICC Commonwealth Games Qualifier 2022

Bangladesh players huddles ahead of their match against Malaysia during CWG Qualifier 2022

Pre-tournament favourites Bangladesh and Sri Lanka eased to victory in their respective games on the opening day of the ICC Commonwealth Games Qualifier 2022 at the Kinrara Oval in Kuala Lumpur. Bangladesh spinners set up a regulation run chase to overcome Malaysia while Sri Lanka thwarted Scotland through a powerful batting display.

Malaysia vs Bangladesh

Bangladesh got off to a winning start on the back of a disciplined bowling effort led by Rumana Ahmed, who picked up two for four in her full quota before a quick-fire 28 from Shamima Sultana helped them chase down a target of 50 in just eight overs.

Bangladesh won the toss, elected to field first, and strung together a procession of dot balls in the Powerplay. Malaysian opener Wan Julia lost her off stump to an arm ball from off-spinner Salma Khatun to leave the hosts one wicket down in the fourth over with just three runs on the board.

Mas Elysa Yasmin Zulkifi of Malaysia hits out against Bangladesh during CWG Qualifier 2022
Mas Elysa Yasmin Zulkifi of Malaysia hits out against Bangladesh during CWG Qualifier 2022

Yusrina Yakoop was next to go, playing around a low full toss from seamer Suraya Azmim. Mas Elysa then joined skipper Winifred Duraisingam at the crease. The pair stitched together 15 runs — the highest partnership of the innings — before Mas Elysa backed up too far at the non-striker’s end and was run out by bowler Nahida Akter.

A few balls later, Malaysian skipper Duraisingam charged down the track and drove left-arm spinner Akter through the off-side for the first boundary of the innings. However, she departed in the very next over after chipping Ritu Moni to Sobhana Mostary at backward point. Malaysia was reeling at 26 for four at the halfway point and things only got tougher as leg-spinner Rumana Ahmed was introduced into the attack.

She gave nothing away, picking up the key wickets of Ainna Hamizah and Arianna Natasya; the latter caught and bowled.

Akter returned to clean bowl Nur Zulaika before Suraya Azmim disturbed the timber of Nik Atelia. Malaysia would go on to post 49 for nine with Duraisingam top-scoring with 12 off 31 balls.

Needing to chase 50 for victory at 2.5 runs per over, Bangladesh’s openers wasted no time whatsoever. Shamima Sultana brought up a milestone of 500 T20I runs courtesy of a flurry of boundaries, including a towering six over square leg off the bowling of Duraisingam.

With the opening partnership at 38, Malaysian left-arm spinner Arianna Natasya remained competitive, dismissing Salma Khatun off a straighter one that grabbed her outside edge and was taken by wicketkeeper Wan Julia. In her next over, she snared the wicket of the dangerous Sultana, but it was all too late as skipper Nigar Sultana and Fargana Hoque steered Bangladesh home with 12 overs and eight wickets to spare.

Fahima Khatun of Bangladesh bowls against Malaysia during CWG Qualifier 2022
Fahima Khatun of Bangladesh bowls against Malaysia during CWG Qualifier 2022

Leg-spinner Rumana Ahmed was adjudged Player of the Match.

“As a spinner, turn is less but (the pitch is) good for spinners if they bowl in the right areas with good variation,” she said.

Malaysian skipper Duraisingam admitted that they were short on runs in the first innings.

“First of all we need to put runs on the board. We need to start believing in ourselves and apply it in the centre,” she said.

Bangladesh skipper Nigar Sultana acknowledged how her team’s hard work is paying off.

“We worked so hard back home for this. We played some practice matches…we all know if we do well here, this is going to help us in the upcoming World Cup as well,” she said

Sri Lanka vs Scotland

Sri Lankan skipper Chamari Athapaththu led from the front, pummeling 86 runs off 45 balls with 13 fours and two sixes to propel her team to 182 before her bowlers stepped up to bowl Scotland out for 73. Scotland, however, were unfortunate to lose both Lorna Jack and Ellen Watson to injury; the former not batting at all and the latter retiring hurt on 30.

Earlier in the day, Sri Lanka won the toss and decided to bat. Athapaththu took advantage of opening bowlers Kathryn Bryce and Rachel Slater missing their lines in the Powerplay as she scored boundaries all around the wicket. Teenage off-spinner Katherine Fraser was then introduced into the attack, trapping opener Vishmi Gunaratne in front for eight.

Chamari Athapaththu of Sri Lanka hands over her Player of the Match to Sachini Nisansala
Chamari Athapaththu of Sri Lanka hands over her Player of the Match to Sachini Nisansala

This, however, did not deter the Sri Lankan skipper who peppered the off side boundary both in front of and behind square, taking seamer Hannah Rainey for 15 runs in her solitary over and leg-spinner Abtaha Maqsood for 13 in her first over. Abtaha would return to snare the wicket of Athapaththu with a smart piece of bowling that saw the batter stumped down the leg side.

However, just as Scotland were edging their way back into the contest, the trio of Harshitha Madhavi, Nilakshi De Silva, and Ama Kanchana combined to score 53 runs in the last five overs to get Sri Lanka up to 182 for four.

In reply, Scotland started well with both Ellen Watson and Sarah Bryce finding the fence on a regular basis. Soon after lifting left-arm Udeshika Prabhodani over long on for six, Sarah Bryce tried to go over the top but could not clear mid-off, getting caught in the circle by Nilakshi De Silva.

Kathryn Bryce found the boundary immediately with an elegant cover drive before left-arm spinner and debutant Sachini Nisansala bowled her with a straighter one. In her next over, Nisansla would shine again, running out Katie McGill with a direct hit off her own bowling.

Two balls later, Ellen Watson limped off the field and Scotland never recovered. They were bowled out for 73 with Watson and Lorna Jack unable to return to the batting crease. Sri Lanka won by 109 runs to put future opponents on notice.

Athapathu won the Player of the Match award but chose instead to dedicate her award to debutant Nisansala for her two wickets and an impressive effort in the field.

“She is a young and exciting player. She has been doing all the hard work in the nets and I’m happy she made her debut. You can expect some big contributions from her in the future,” said Athapaththu.

Kavisha Dilhari of Sri Lanka bowls against Scotland during the Women's T20 CWG Qualifier 2022
Kavisha Dilhari of Sri Lanka bowls against Scotland during the Women's T20 CWG Qualifier 2022

As captain, she encouraged her bowlers to stick to the basics.

“The best bet is to bowl wicket-to-wicket and always put the ball in the right areas. Obviously, minimise the loose balls and wait for the batter to make a mistake,” she said.

While Scottish skipper Kathryn Bryce agreed that Athapaththu was in red-hot form, she also cited the dropped chance that allowed her to continue her innings.

“We created chances but just didn't take them and that could have changed the momentum of the bowling innings,” she said.

Kenya is the fifth team participating in the Qualifier to decide one remaining slot at the Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham. Australia, Barbados, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa have already qualified.

Brief scores:

Bangladesh beat Malaysia by 8 wickets. Malaysia 49/9 in 20 Overs; Bangladesh 53/2 in 8 overs.

Player of the Match: Rumana Ahmed

Sri Lanka beat Scotland by 109 runs. Sri Lanka 182/4 in 20 Overs; Scotland 73 All Out in 12.1 Overs.

Player of the Match: Chamari Athapaththu

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