Women cricketers feted

Kathmandu, July 19:

Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) today felicitated 17-member Nepali cricket team that

won runners-up trophy at the inaugural ACC Women’s Cricket Tournament in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

State Minister for Education and Sports, Mohan Singh Rathaur handed over Rs 10,000 each to 14 players and coach Jung Bahadur Thapa amidst a programme. Manager Lekh Bahadur Chhetri and assistant manager Pabitra Raut were also feted on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, CAN president Binay Raj Pandey said that the Nepali girls exceeded his expectation. “I would have been more than happy even if they had reached the last four but returning with runner-up trophy is simply an exceptional achievement,” said Pandey.

Pandey also announced that they were working out on a plan to introduce a new format of cricket in an effort to support women’s cricket. “We are considering to organise inter-school Under-11 combined (boys and girls) tournament in our bid to develop women’s cricket,” Pandey added.

Minister Rathaur said he would try his best to release a certain fund to honour the cricketers for their marvellous achievement. The National Sports Council had requested the government to honour the ACC Women’s Tournament runners up.

Earlier, CAN president Pandey and other officials received the team at the Tribhuvan International Airport.

Skipper Nary Thapa , who won the best bowler’s award in the tournament with 12 wickets, said that reaching the finals in the first ever international participation was a great feeling. “We haven’t even imagined of reaching this far,” said Nary, who is also a national badminton player. She added that they need to improve a lot in both batting and fielding for international success in future.

Coach Thapa said his players took the tournament seriously following a draw with Malaysia. “We were an improved team in every other match,” said Thapa, adding that he had also best expected to reach the semi-finals.

Nepal had a dream start when they beat Thailand by 55 runs in their opening Group A match in the eight-team tournament. Batting first Nepal scored 95-8 in 30 overs and bowled out Thailand for 40 runs in 22 overs. In the next match, they drew with Malaysia chasing a modest 73 runs with eight balls to spare. The draw meant that Nepal needed win against Hong Kong in their last Group match to secure the semi-final berth.

Nepali teenaged girls rose to the occasion and registered a convincing seven-wicket victory over Hong Kong. They restricted Hong Kong to 31 runs and chased the total losing three wickets, setting up a semi-final clash with China.

Nepali bowlers were instrumental in bringing their team to last four and once again their strength — bowling — helped them dismiss China for 40 runs, which they chased in the 15 overs losing only one wicket.

In the rain-marred final, Nepal lost to Bangladesh by eight wickets. Despite the loss Nepal won accolade not just from their team officials and opponents but also from former ACC Development Officer Rumesh Ratnaike, now assistant coach of Sri Lanka national team.

Meanwhile, central sports department of the Democratic National Youth Federation also honoured the cricketers today. Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sahana Pradhan handed over the felicitation letters to the players and officials.