Nepal face Hong Kong in semi-final today

KATHMANDU: A Herculian task lie ahead for Nepal as they aim for a place in the final of the ACC Women’s Twenty20 Cricket Tournament with a victory over Hong Kong at the Bayuemas Oval in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.

Nepal entered the semi-finals as the Group A runners up with four wins from five matches, while Hong Kong made it to the last four as Group B winners with 100 per cent winning record.

With semi-final berth already confirmed, Nepal lost to Thailand in the last league-round match on Wednesday. It was Nepali team’s only second loss in three tournaments since losing to Test-playing nation Bangladesh in the final of the inaugural ACC Women’s Cricket Tournament in 2007 in Malaysia.

In their first encounter, Nepal had bowled out Hong Kong for just 31 runs with Nary Thapa and Neera Rajopadhyay taking three wickets each in their seven-wicket victory in Malaysia in 2007. But this time around, Hong Kong have emerged as the favourites in the 10-nation event and they will be a tough nut to crack for the Nepali players.

The other semi-final pits Group A winners Thailand and Group B runners up China at the Kinrara Oval the same day.

On Thursday, Nepali players had a two-hour practice session at the Selangor Turf Club and the team mainly focused on batting following their collapse during their 81-run chase against against Thailand.

Nepali team coach Pradeep Raj Pandey said he was considering of changing the opening pair against Hong Kong. “I will possibly send in regular opener Neera Rajopadhyay along with Rekha Rawal to open the innings,” said Pandey.

“So far, I am satisfied with bowling and fielding departments. It will be easy for us if the the new pair chip in runs top of the order tomorrow,” he added. He also hinted at resting Janaki Bhatta, Sarita Magar and Manisha Rawal.

The coach was also concerned about the regular run outs and said that has prompted him to shuffle the top order. Pandey also said the team need to control conceding extra runs.

The coach said former skipper Nary Thapa, skipper Ritu Kanoujiya and record making bowler Rubina Chhetri were the key players for the semi-final match.

Skipper Ritu Kanoujiya said the team was committed to put in 100 per cent in the match. “The win against Hong Kong is very important and we will deliver our best,” said Ritu. She also believed batting would be the deciding factor against Hong Kong. “We have to bat well, we have to control conceding the extra runs and we have to be careful while taking quick singles and doubles to avoid run outs.”

“This would be the second time we are playing against the Hong Kong. We defeated them previously, but this time they are a completely different team,” said Ritu. Like coach Pandey, Ritu rated said Nary, Neera and Rekha as the key players for the semi-final match.

Probable batting order of Nepal: Neera Rajopadhyay, Rekha Rawal, Maya Rawat, Ritu Kanoujiya, Rasmi Sharma, Nary Thapa, Nitu Thapa, Sonu Khadka, Saraswoti BK, Rubina Chhetri and Ambika Budhathoki.