A good ACC U-19 Women’s Final this, between two evenly-matched teams. Going into the match, Nepal had the edge in flair and firepower with Bhutan being more disciplined and correct. Flair won, combined with considerable discipline as Sarita Magar guided Nepal home in the 18th over of a rain-reduced 20-over match. Both teams were hungry to win, Bhutan still on their climb to the peak, Nepal as defending champions trying to beat down all claimants to their top spot.

Rain delayed the start by 63 minutes, the match reduced to 20-overs a side and would have been reduced further had the players of both sides not done great work in clearing the covers after a heavy rain shower of 30 minutes’ duration, just before the game was due to start at 9AM.

Nepal won the toss and put the opposition in. When they win, the men’s and youth team do so by capitalizing on their opponents’ mistakes, Nepal’s women hoped for the same here but Bhutan are made of relatively error-free stuff. Bhutan’s captain and opener Ugyen Dema fell early, trapped in front by Rubina Chhetri which brought the nuggety Dechen Wangmo in. Straight of bat, solid of shot, strong of head. If Nepal could get her out early, they’d have a couple of fingers on the trophy. After one thumping drive to the long-off boundary, Dechen got the thinnest of edges, driving at Nary Thapa. Out for 7.

Nary Thapa claims Dechen Wangmo and Nepal have a big breakthrough

Bhutan were testing the Nepali fielders with their running, but runs were at a premium. Nepal were bowling very tightly. After 10 overs Bhutan were 21 for 2. Nary Thapa finished her 4 over-spell for the concession of just 4 runs and proved once again that she is a big-match player. Yeshey Choden, who’d been in from the start, was stumped going for one over the top in the 14th over with the score on 30. To make matters worse for Bhutan, it was a wicket maiden for the off-spinner Sarita Magar. Bhutan don’t have much batting beyond their top five, and Nepal duly knocked them off one by one. Nepal bowled very well, attacking the stumps and giving the batsmen no room.

After having done so well to get to the Final, could Bhutan’s weary seven-matches in nine-days players raise themselves for one last hour? For all the quality of Bhutan’s bowlers, could they defend 53?

The skies remained heavy throughout the morning and Nepal, with a gathering bunch of fans, remained quiet for much of their run chase. A comedy of errors cost Nepal their first wicket, Sita Rana running two for none, as Dechen Wangmo threw from behind the stumps back to the bowler’s end for a direct hit with both Sita and Manisha at the striker’s end. Nepal 1 for 1 in the second over.

Nary Thapa finds the boundary

Nary Thapa came in. She swung her first ball, a full-toss, onto the square-leg scoreboard. Stance like Lara, smites like Lara. She delivers. Two balls later a four behind square. But Nary was caught, playing just a little too early, at square leg in the next over. Bhutan were back in it. Nepal 15 for 2 in the third over.

Manisha Rawal was then lbw next ball to Anju Gurung. Mamta Thapa kept out the hat-trick ball. Bhutan were sensing the chance of a victory and Nepal were ever so quiet.

After 5 overs Nepal were 21 for 3. Bhutan were going to have to take the seven wickets if they were going to win.

The doughty Sarita Magar eased the pressure with a super drive through cover, the first boundary since Nary Thapa’s little flurry. The teams on the field were quiet, the watching Thailand, China, Qatar and Oman squads were not and were thoroughly enjoying the occasion.

Sarita Magar working hard

It was when Nepal passed the half-way mark of 27 that the squad started cheering. Bhutan’s fans tried to match them on that front too. But Nepal were undoubtedly winning.

and harder still

Nepal needed 20 from the last ten overs, seven wickets in hand. Bhutan’s bowlers just not able to break the partnership between Sarita Magar and Mamta Thapa, which was already comfortably the highest of the match so far.

Bhutan were pulling Nepal back when Mamta Thapa was bowled by Sonam Zam with the score on 34 at the start of the 13th over.

Bhutan were really trying. All Nepal had to do though was nudge things along.

Bhutan set attacking fields. Nepal scrambled runs at every opportunity. The tall off-spinner Sonam Zam caused the batters problems but she just didn’t have enough runs to play with. Shies at the stumps gave away valuable runs.

With five overs to go Nepal needed 11. With four overs to go they needed 5. Trishna Singh had been lightning between the wickets for Nepal but in backing up too far she was run out by a direct hit by Anju Gurung.

Sarita held firm to hit the winning runs. Nepal had defended the title they first won in December 2008.

ACC U-19 Women’s Championship 2010

Final: Bhutan v Nepal at Indian Association, Singapore
Match reduced to 20 overs
Nepal won the toss and chose to bat
Bhutan: 53 for 6 (R.Chhetri 3-15)
Nepal: 54 for 5 off 17.2 overs (A.Gurung 2-1)
Player of the Final: Sarita Magar (Nepal)

Bowler of the Tournament: Devika Darjee (Bhutan)
Batter of the Tournament: Nary Thapa (Nepal)
Player of the Tournament: Yasmin Daswani (Hong Kong)

Pictures by Iftekhar Haider

Tournament page

Filed October 12th, 2010