Women cricketers off to Malaysia

KATHMANDU: The Nepali women cricket team today left for Malaysia to take part in the ACC Women’s Twenty20 Tournament scheduled for July 3-11.

This is the third international participation of the Nepali women cricketers. Nepal were the runner up to Test-playing nation Bangladesh in the inaugural ACC Women’s Cricket Tournament in Malaysia in 2007, while they brought home the ACC Under-19 Tournament trophy from Thailand in 2008.

Nepal are drawn in Group A along with Thailand, Singapore, Qatar, Bhutan and Iran. Hosts Malaysia, Hong Kong, the UAE, China, Kuwait and Oman are in Group B. Top two teams from both the groups will advance to the semi-finals. Nepal will face Iran in the first match at the Bayuemas Oval on July 3. They will take on Singapore at the Selangor Turf Club the next day before playing against Qatar at the Kinrara Oval on July 5. Nepal will meet Bhutan on July 7 and Thailand on July 8. The semi-finals are slated for July 10, while the third-place playoff and final are on July 11.

Ritu Kanoujiya of Baitadi is the team captain, while Nitu Thapa of Bhairahawa is her deputy. Nery Thapa of Nepalgunj - who is the only player from her region this time — was the skipper in Nepal’s first two outings. Others in the squad are Neera Rajopadhyaya and Sarita Magar of Kathmandu, Saraswoti Lamgade of Bhairahawa, Rekha Rawal, Manisha Rawal, Maya Rawat, Sonu Khadka and Janaki Bhatta of Baitadi, Rubina Chhetry, Rashmi Sharma and Ambika Budhathoki of Biratnagar. Pradeep Raj Pandey of Biratnagar is the coach, while CAN member Binod Raj Rajbhandari is the team manager and Sarita Shrestha the assistant manager.

Skipper Kanoujiya said the team was better organised than that of the previous two outings. “All the players are confident and we are looking forward to the tournament,” said Kanoujiya. Asked about the team’s target, the skipper said: “Winning is the only target.” Team manager Rajbhandari said he was confident of the team. “We are committed to maintain the past record and win the trophy this time as well,” he said.