Thailand are now the only unbeaten team in the tournament and stand at the top of the table ahead of UAE and China by virtue of their superior net run-rate.
UAE had been the early pace-setters in the ICC Women’s Asia Qualifier 2019 which is being held in Bangkok until 27th February but their hopes of winning the competition and moving onto the next stage of qualifying for the next two ICC World Cup has been dealt a blow as they were beaten by seven wickets by Nepal at TCG.
At the same time at AIT Thailand made it three wins out of three by defeating Hong Kong by the emphatic margin of 82 runs, while later in the day China also claimed their third victory by beating Malaysia by eight wickets. Thailand are now the only unbeaten team in the tournament and stand at the top of the table ahead of UAE and China by virtue of their superior net run-rate.
The contest between Nepal and UAE was expected to be one of the highest quality matches in the competition with both teams ranked in the top 16 of the ICC Women's T20 International rankings. Nepal were determined to bounce back after losing to Thailand in their previous match while UAE were looking to continue their record of success as they have won all three of their matches so far. Nepal beat UAE by six wickets during the T20 Smash which was held in Bangkok last month so they were confident they could beat them once again.
Nepal were on the back foot from the start in their match against Thailand when the first over went for 10 and runs continued to flow during the powerplay but they were looking for an improved performance in the field after UAE had chosen to bat first. Nepal changed their approach by opening with the left-arm spin of Sita Rana Magar who started with an accurate maiden. Two runs came from the second and the pressure was building as Chaya Mughal was caught at mid-on for two off Magar with the score on four in the third over.
Nepal were suddenly in control as Kabita Kunwar had Esha Oza lbw for two and UAE were in trouble at 8 for 2 after 4 overs. UAE were under pressure for the first time in the tournament as Kavisha Egodage was lbw sweeping as Magar claimed her second wicket. Nepal needed to rebuild with Subha Venkaraman and captain Humaira Tasneem at the crease with the score 11 for 3 after five overs.
Worse was to follow for UAE as captain Humaira hit tamely to opposite number Rubina Chhetry fielding at cover and Chamani Seneviratne was at the crease much earlier than in previous matches. Sita Rana Magar finished an outstanding spell of 4-1-7-2 with her left-arm spin and Kabita Kunwar was taken off with figures of 3-1-7-2 to be replaced by off-spinner Karuna Bhandari who had bowled well against Thailand. Sonu Khadka struggled with the new ball in that match but she struck in her first over as Subha Venkataraman was lbw. Udeni Dona was caught behind next ball and UAE's innings was in tatters at 19 for 6 after 10 overs.
Even with six wickets down and less than 20 on the board former Sri Lankan captain Chamani Seneviratne was more than capable of launching a counter-attack and she seemed to be finding her range as she reached 13 but then came the moment of the match and possibly of the tournament as she hit a crisp off-drive that looked to be falling short of mid-off only for the fielder Kabita Kunwar to dive forward to claim a brilliant catch. UAE were 35 for 7 after 15 overs and the runs had completely dried up with only five overs left in the innings.
UAE's innings seemed to end in a flurry of wickets as they were bowled out for 41 in 17.3 overs. Nary Thapa who was later declared Player of the match claimed the last two wickets with successive balls as she finished with the outstanding analysis of 3.3-1-6-4 to complete an outstanding performance from Nepal in the field. The opening bowlers were excellent with a mixture of pace and spin, Sonu Khadka had taken two wickets in the middle of the innings and Thapa took the last four including the important wicket of Chamani for 13.
Nepal could have struggled even chasing a target of 42 if they had lost early wickets but but their openers were comfortable against the combination of Subha Venkataraman's medium pace and Chamani Seneviratne's off spin. Esha Oza did not keep wicket today and took two wickets in an over as Nepal were 23 for 2 after seven overs but captain Rubina Chhetry made sure there were no more alarms even though Kajal Shreshta was caught at mid-off by Oza with scores level. Another boundary to Chhetry and Nepal had won by 7 wickets in 10.2 overs.
With UAE suffering their first defeat of the tournament, Thailand had a great chance to take a decisive advantage in the ICC Women’s Asia Qualifier 2019 and once again they gave an extremely professional performance against Hong Kong at AIT as they recorded their third win in three matches to move alongside UAE at the top of the table on six points.
Thailand won the toss and chose to bat and openers Naruemol Chaiwai and Nattakan Chantam shared a partnership of 70. Nattakan was out for 30 but it was Naruemol who was the dominant partner hitting seven boundaries and she went on to score the first fifty of the tournament before she was run out from the last ball of the innings for 57.
Thailand reached 105 for 3 in their 20 overs and soon had Hong Kong in trouble as three wickets fell in the second over. Nattaya Boochatham finished with figures of 4 for 3 and Suleeporn Laomi took 2 for 7 as Hong Kong could make only 23 runs even though they extended their innings into the 18th over thanks to the efforts of Yasmin Daswani who was last out. Thailand won by the crushing margin of 82 runs as they moved to the top of the table with their third victory of the tournament.
Top of FormThe afternoon match at TCG saw China take on Malaysia and in many ways China have been the surprise package of the tournament. It is a team transformed from the squad that came to Thailand last month to take part in the T20 Smash and lost all their matches. Some more experienced players have been recalled to the team and China had won matches against Hong Kong and Kuwait after a narrow defeat against Thailand. Malaysia started well with a win against Kuwait but have struggled against stronger teams. If China were able to win their third match in a row they would move level on points with Thailand and UAE.
China won the toss and chose to bowl first and their bowling attack kept up the pressure on Malaysia who lost both openers to run outs. Mas Elysa and Christina Baret both reached double figures batting in the middle-order but Malaysia were never able to break free from some tidy bowling. Spinners Liu Jie and Han Lili both returned figures of 2 for 13 but Zumika Azmi did make sure her team batted out the overs with an unbeaten 17. China have chased successfully twice in previous matches but in contrasting styles: they scraped home against Hong Kong by one wicket but were convincing nine-wicket winners against Kuwait.
Malaysia were trying hard to defend their score of 63 for 9 as they claimed two wickets in the powerplay with openers Zhang Chen and Zhou Caiyun back in the pavilion. China reached 20 for 2 after six overs with their captain Huang Zhuo at the crease with Song Fengfeng. China's captain no doubt had planned to be at the crease to see her side home rather than leave it to the tail-enders as happened against Hong Kong.
The Chinese third-wicket pair were content to grind out the runs before they suddenly changed gears as Song Fengfeng who was declared player of the match, hit a boundary and her captain responded with two more from successive balls. 22 runs came from two overs and China were comfortably placed on 50 for 2 after 10 overs. Runs continued to come easily against the spinners and scores were level after 12 overs with both batters on 24. It was Song Fengfeng who hit the winning run through the covers and China had won their third match in succession. Three teams now stood on six points as Thailand had three wins from three, UAE and China three wins from four with Thailand now standing at the top of the table thanks to their net run-rate.
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