Nepal cruise to semis

Johor Bahru, July 15:

Skipper Nary Thapa and Neera Rajopadhyay shone for the third successive game as Nepal thrashed Hong Kong by seven wickets to secure the semi-final berth of the ACC Women’s Tournament here at Johor Cricket Academy today.

The result means Nepal finished top of Group A with 10 points. Hong Kong were second with eight points. In Group B, Bangladesh — the only Test-playing nation in the tournament — advanced as group winners ahead of China.

Hong Kong were firm favourites going into the match for everyone, except the Nepali team. We’ve seen it time and time again, when they can, have to and must, Nepal’s home-grown cricketers fight with everything they have. Any team at approximately the same level, that doesn’t show the same commitment, just doesn’t have a chance.

On Sunday, up against a Hong Kong team fragile in temperament, the Nepali team of seasoned athletes played an overwhelmingly ‘professional’ game. Invited to bowl first, Nepal had one plan: get Hong Kong skipper Neisha Pratt out early.

Pratt, a veteran of New Zealand domestic cricket, leads the batting for her team. Her dismissal, in the third over, caught behind by Mamta Thapa off Sita Rana Magar, put the rest of the Hong Kong batting under immense pressure. Pressure compounded by the fact that there were just no loose deliveries. Not a single wide was bowled by Nepal all day.

Nepali team exposed the youth and inexperience of the Hong Kong side. Themselves too inexperience and young, Nepal went for the kill and apart from Keenu Gill (10), no other batswomen made double digit.

Nary and Neera both claimed three wickets each as Hong Kong were all out paltry 31 runs in 23.5 overs. All Nepal need to win the match was to stay put at the crease which they did.

With her left-arm spin, the 13-year old Chan Sar Hau picked up two wickets but it was too late. By the time Nepali opener Manisha Rawal (10 off 73 deliveries) was out in the 24th over, her team had all but won the match. Nary then hit a four to seal the victory.

In Tuesday’s semis, Nepal will play China, while Bangladesh face Hong Kong. The final is slated for Wednesday.