The first day of the ICC Women’s Asia Qualifier 2019 will be remembered for two contrasting victories. Malaysia enjoyed a comfortable 63-run win over Kuwait, while Thailand, despite earning victory by six wickets against China, defeated their opponents with just one ball to spare.
UAE were the day’s other winners as they beat Hong Kong by 21 runs in the afternoon match at AIT.
Kuwait made their debut in an ICC Women's competition with their game against Malaysia at AIT. Malaysia who played in the recent Thailand T20 Smash competition made a confident start to reach 30 without loss after four overs.
Kuwait fought back well as they were able to dismiss both openers. Yusrina Yaakop was bowled by Priyada Murali for 19 to end an opening partnership of 39 and captain Winifred Duraisingam tried a big hit, but holed out in the deep for 16. Kuwait captain Maryam Omar finished her four overs of off-spin for just 14 runs and Malaysia were 53/2 after 10 overs.
With five overs to go, Malaysia were moving into a strong position as they reached 89/2 after 15 overs. Siow Tzin Yee and Mas Elysa were putting away the occasional bad balls against bowlers inexperienced at this level.
Malaysia would have been pleased with their final total of 139/3 in 20 overs – their experience showed, with Kuwait tiring in the field. Tzin Yee made an unbeaten 42 from 40 balls after Elysa had hit 33 from 32 balls. Mariamma Hyder finished with 2/21, but a number of injuries were proof that Kuwait had found it difficult in the field.
Kuwait's team had high hopes, and they do have some fine individual players, but they were denied by an excellent team performance from Malaysia, who were comfortable winners by 63 runs. Defending 139/3, Malaysia's bowlers played to their strengths.
Elysa followed her 33 runs with 3/8 as Kuwait were bowled out for 76, with Sabreen Zaki unable to bat after being injured in the field. Nur Nadhirah and Nur Ariyanna both claimed two wickets.
In the other morning match, Thailand faced China at TCG, looking to build on their unbeaten record in the Thailand T20 Smash, which took them to 12th in the MRF Tyres ICC Women's T20I Team Rankings.
The teams endured a long wait for morning rain to clear. The game was reduced to an eight-over affair and it looked like Thailand would have a comfortable chase as they restricted China to 32/7.
China have been left with an under-strength team in recent competitions but they look to have a strong bowling attack in this tournament as they made Thailand fight all the way. Chanida Sutthiruang hit the winning boundary with one ball to spare. The scorebook will say that Thailand won by six wickets, but this was so close to being an incredible upset.
Sutthiruang bowled well with the new ball and claimed figures of 3/3 in her two overs, but the boundary she hit to end this match was just as important. This was an example of how short format of cricket can bring about tighter contests.
Hosts Thailand were off to a winning start in the ICC Women's Asia Qualifier 2019 in a rain-hit game, while Malaysia began with a strong all-round performance.— ICC (@ICC) February 18, 2019
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Hong Kong faced UAE in the afternoon match at AIT and it looked to be a well-balanced contest. UAE have been more successful in recent tournaments, having finished as losing finalists behind Thailand in the last Asian Qualifier.
Both teams had played in a recent competition in Bangkok and so were used to the conditions. UAE captain Humaira Tasneem was quick to choose to bat first but Hong Kong's Mariko Hill was just as happy to bowl first. The match was evenly poised after 10 overs with UAE on 58/4 and when the hard hitting Chamani Senevirathne was caught by Hill off Ruchitha Venkatesh for 15, UAE were 70/5 after 13 overs and Hong Kong were looking to restrict their opponents to a total close to the 100-mark.
UAE moved into three figures from the last ball of the 19th over with seven wickets down. The lower order were going for their shots and a wicket, a boundary and two singles came in the last over. The final total was 106/8 and at the end of the innings both teams would have fancied their chances of starting the competition with a victory.
UAE’s highest individual score was only 19 and the wickets were shared around, but a total of 106 was still a useful one at this level.
Ka Ying Chan was then able to get the innings moving as Hong Kong reached 34/2 from 10 overs but still required 73 from the last 10. They were slipping further behind, but Jenefer Davies was third out for five from 25 balls to allow captain Hill to come to the crease to try to increase the tempo. Ying Chan followed after a bright innings of 19 and Marina Lamplough was run out from the last ball of the 15th over. Hong Kong were 53/5 with five overs left – needing to score 54 more runs.
Hong Kong got tied down at the start against some steady bowling. Chaya Mughal and Subha Venkataraman shared the new ball and restricted them to 17/2 from the first six overs, with Yasmin Daswani getting run out from the final ball of the Powerplay. Mughal bowled her four overs straight through and conceded nine runs before immediately taking over behind the stumps.
The reason for this move became clear as former Sri Lankan captain Chamani Senevirathne came on to bowl her fast off-breaks. UAE look a well-drilled side even after the retirement of Nisha Ali, who was player of the tournament in the last edition of the Asia Qualifier. To complete the imaginative use of available resources, the original wicket-keeper and opening batter Esha Oza was brought on to bowl.
Jasmine Titmuss raised Hong Kong's hopes with a pair of boundaries but the dismissal of Hill, lbw to Oza for 12, was probably the end of any realistic hope of victory for her team. Senevirathne finished with 1/25 from her four overs and Oza also did a useful job with 1/14 from four overs after first keeping wicket.
The pressure exerted by some steady bowling also resulted in three run-outs as Hong Kong were restricted to 85/8. It had been a competitive match throughout but UAE remained the superior side as they won by 21 runs.
UAE joined Thailand and Malaysia as winners on the first day but it was quite a surprise that the most complete performance of the day came from Malaysia. Play continues on Tuesday with three more matches – Nepal against Malaysia, Hong Kong facing China and UAE playing Kuwait.
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