The Final was played on the hottest day of the tournament so far and Nepal were absolutely scorching.

"We always knew we had the team to win, we've been playing a long time and have enough confidence in matches," said Nepal's captain Nary Thapa after their comprehensive seven-wicket victory over Malaysia in the ACC U-19 Women's Championship. Nary, an international badminton player, was also captain when Nepal were finalists in the inaugural ACC Women's Tournament for seniors in 2007.

Nepal celebrate sweet victory in Chiang Mai

Malaysia themselves have improved tremendously since that 2007 tournament. Four of the current U-19 team featured back then; this year’s team pulled off a terrific win against pre-tournament favourites Hong Kong in the semi-final. Malaysia may have improved but Nepal still remain a fair distance away. Nepal know what to do and know how to do it. 34 schools in Nepal formed the basis of this squad of 14, some of them have been playing cricket for four years. It shows.

Nepal's batters haven't had to do much in this tournament such has been the ability of their bowlers first up. Today was no different. Malaysia's Christina Baret fell to the sixth ball of the match, picked up by Nary Thapa at short-leg off Sita Magar and from then on Nepal were on top. Nurmanina Rajak after staying for some time, was bowled by an off-cutter from tall Rekha Rawal.

There was a hint of inswing throughout for little left-armer Sonu Khadka from around the wicket at the Lake End and, smart enough to keep the ball right up to the bat, she picked up three wickets. Most significant of her victims was Malaysia's dynamic young captain Nur Aishah, top scorer for her team in the tournament so far. She too was foxed by Sonu and dollied up a catch off the leading edge.

Malaysia's Dewi Chunam is run-out
Picture by Danny Bowes

At 15-5 Malaysian hopes then rested on Winifred Duraisingham to mount a revival but she was seventh out on 32, aiming an expansive drive to a well-pitched up delivery from Rekha. Nepal were sharp in the field. The only time Nepal slipped a little was when the last wicket pair of Mariana Lakie and Alice Choo were together, when a catch and run-out were missed.

Malaysia finished on 45, with extras contributing two-thirds of the runs.

Nepal started cautiously, time, talent and temperament on their side.

A pulled four off Winifred by Maya Rawat and Nepal were away. But as the Malaysians showed in 2007, their gentle smiles cover some fierce competitive fire. With the ball they're dangerous. Winifred bowled Roshani Bohara, beaten for pace, for the first breakthrough and then next over Aishah scalped two in two. Nepal 20-3 and Malaysia were back in it.

Nepal's nuggety cricketers weren't going to let it slip however and Trishna Singh and left-hander Binu Magar stroked the ball around the ground to take their side home by seven wickets. An off-drive for four, shot of the day, sealing the result.

"Nepal played well, no doubt about it," said Malaysia's coach V.Kalidas, "but I am proud of the way my girls tried with the ball. These girls are young enough to keep getting better in future tournaments."

For Nepal it was vindication of their national school-cricket program, "We played very well," said Nepal's coach Jameel Ansari modestly. He's been working with many of his team in school cricket for years in the lead-up to this tournament. He and his players could well end up in the 2010 Asian Games.

ACC U-19 Women's Championship

Final: Malaysia v Nepal at Prem Oval
Nepal won the toss and elected to field
Malaysia: 45 all out off 16.2 overs (S.Magar 2-10, R.Rawal 2-11, S.Khadka 3-11)
Nepal: 47 for 3 off 11.5 overs
Player of the Match: Sonu Khadka (Nepal)


ACC U-19 Women’s Championship 2008

Filed December 23 2008