The third day of the Asia qualifiers for ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2018 saw some exciting fixtures today as Hong Kong was taking on China in the seventh match of the series followed by Thailand vs. Malaysia for the noon encounter. United Arab Emirates (UAE) locked horns with Nepal in the last match of the day. Thailand and Hong Kong earned themselves two important points each which took them to the top of the points table while UAE is having a dream run in their first ever ICC tournament as they beat Nepal by 5 runs in a close encounter. Thailand is currently leading the points table on net run-rate as both the host and Hong Kong are on 5 points with UAE tied at three with four points.
Batting first, Hong Kong lost their first wicket in the form of Yasmin Daswani for a duck in the first over of the match and was struggling at 1 for 1. However, Captain Mariko Hill (48) and Keenu Gill (48) steadied the Hong Kong innings as they build a 108 runs partnership to take Hong Kong to a respectable total. China bowlers were struggling to find the correct line and length as both the batswomen took a rollercoaster ride. Zhongyuan Lyu was the pick of the bowlers picking up 3 wickets giving away only 14 runs in her quota of 4 overs. With a target of 130 runs to chase, China lost their first wicket in the second over courtesy some brilliant fielding from the Hong Kong fielders. China then started to stitch a partnership; however, they lost their second wicket in the form Caiyun Zhou, who played a brilliant knock of 34 runs from 40 balls after sharing 46 run stands with Liu Xiaonan. However, the girls from China weren’t able to up the scoring rate as they finished at 77 runs for the loss of six wickets in their quota of 20 overs. Marina Lamplough was the pick of the bowlers for the Hong Kong side as she took 2 wickets in her quota of 4 overs by giving away only 9 runs.
Thailand, who started the day at the top of the table, maintained their position as they beat Malaysia by nine wickets after restricting them to 33 runs for the loss of 9 wickets in their scheduled 20 overs. Opting to field first, Thailand got their first wicket from the very first delivery of the match by Chanida Sutthiruang. However, Malaysia lost the track when they lost three wickets within eight balls all from run-outs without scoring a run as they were reduced to eight for four wickets. Thailand bowlers were of top-class as Ratanaporn Padunglerd bowled 23 dot balls giving away only one run in her final over thus finishing her quota with 1 run from 4 overs. Nattaya Boochatham was equally impressive as she gave only two runs picking up two wickets. In reply, Nattakan Chantam made the chase easy as she played an unbeaten knockoff 21 runs from 22 balls to take her team home within 5.2 overs for the loss of one wicket.
UAE continued their good run in the tournament as they stunned Nepal to register a historic win. Batting first UAE was reduced to 10 for 4 as Ritu Kanojiya and Rubina Chhetry took two early wickets each to put Nepal in an advantageous position. Opener Esha Oza (22 from 27) started the recovery with Natasha Cherriath, who made her debut at the age of 12 years batted well with tail-enders to take UAE’s total to 79 runs for 7 in 20 overs. Nepal were the favorites; however, a confident UAE side reduced them to 11 for 3 as Nisha Ali took two wickets in the second over after Nary Thapa was out in the first ball. The captain of the UAE side, Humaira Tasneem rotated her bowlers well as she brought back Nisha at the end who bowled her last two overs cheaply. Tasneem also picked up two important wickets to lead the team from the front. With 10 runs needed from the last six balls, Kanojiya was at the striker’s end. She scored two runs from the first two balls although they lost a wicket courtesy run-out. Tasneem couldn’t hold on a to the ball as she stretched herself at mid-wicket; however, the number 11 batswoman couldn’t score a single run from the last three balls, thus finishing on 74 runs, five runs short of their target.
With Nepal losing the match, Thailand and Hong Kong can seal the top two spots and book a flight to Netherlands for the final qualifiers if they win their next respective matches. Thailand will take on China while Hong Kong will lock horns with UAE, who will be eyeing another upset in the tournament.