Nepal taste first defeat

KATHMANDU: Nepal suffered their first defeat in five matches, going down by 22 runs against Thailand in the ACC Women's Twenty20 Cricket Tournament at the Kinrara Oval grounds in Malaysia on Wednesday.

Despite the result, Nepal advanced to the semi-finals as Group 'A' runners up to Thailand. The loss, however, pitts Nepal against a tough Hong Kong opponent, the winners of the other group, on Friday. Thailand will meet China in the other semi-final match the same day.

Nepali players were themselves to blame for the defeat, failing to chase a modest 80-run target. Thailand laboured to 79-9 in their allotted 20 overs before bowling out Nepal for 57 runs in 15.1 overs. Thailand opener Pundarika Prathanmitr top scored with a fluent 24 runs. Pundarika struck four boundaries in her 21-ball knock. None of the other Thailand batswomen were able to score in double figures. Their total was also boosted by 19 extra runs. Former skipper Nary Thapa was the pick of the Nepali bowlers with 3-9 from four overs. Skipper Ritu Kanoujiya (1-17), Rekha Rawal (1-21) and Sonu Khandka (1-19) also took one wicket apiece.

After early run outs of openers Maya Rawat (one) and Neeta Rajapadhyaya (16), Nepal were nicely placed at 47-4 by the 12th. But Nepal lost their next six wickets for 10 runs in 25 balls. Apart from Neera, only Ritu (14) was able to score in double figures. The last of the five bowlers used by Thailand —Thanapan Saisud — turned out to be fatal. Thanapan returned with excellent figures of 4-8 from just 2.1 overs, which also earned her the player of the match award. Nantanit Khonchan also claimed two and Nattaya Boochatham took one wicket. Three Nepali batsmen were run out.

Nepal coach Pradeep Raj Pandey believed the morale of the team was still high despite the defeat. "We are confident of making it to the final," added Pandey. Pandey, however, accepted that the loss meant they would now have to play against a tough opponent. The coach blamed poor batting and too many run outs as the reason behind the loss. "We have to correct these mistakes in the semi-finals," said Pandey pointing out towards too many needless shots from his players.

Nepali skipper Ritu also singled out poor batting as the reason for their defeat. "It's not that we are a weak batting side but it's our mistake shot selections." said the skipper. She also pointed out the regular run outs throughout the tournament which has always put them in trouble. "May be we should think about changing the opening pair combination in the next game," said Ritu. She said that it would have been easier to qualify for the final if they had won today. "We are still confident of making it to the final, though," added Ritu.