The fourth day of the Asian Qualifiers for the 2018 Women’s T20 World Cup saw the biggest upset of the tournament when United Arab Emirates (UAE), who is participating in an ICC event for the first time, thrashed Hong Kong by 8 wickets to take one step forward toward main qualifiers. Thailand beat China convincingly by 8 wickets and is on brink of registering a place for the final round of the qualifiers. Nepal came back stronger from their loss in the hand of UAE to beat Malaysia by 33 runs after registering a total of 108 runs on the board.
Batting first, Nepal got off to a good start as Jyoti Pandey (21) and Sita Rana Magar (37) played 66-runs partnership before Magar was run-out by courtesy a brilliant fielding from Ma Elysa. However, Nepal started to lose wickets at regular intervals and eventually manage to post 108 runs on the board. Kajal Shrestha chipped in with valuable 14 runs to help Nepal post a competitive total on the board. Jannadiah Halim and Nur Arianna Natsya was the pick of the bowlers as they both picked two wickets each. In reply, the Malaysian Women’s received the major blow as they lost Christina Beret early in the innings. Emylia Eliani (24) and Winifred Duraisingam (11) tried to steady the Malaysian innings but couldn’t match up with the required run-rate which was eight runs per over. Zayani Syamimi (16) tried at the fag end of the game; however, couldn’t take her team over the line as Malaysia finished 33 runs short. Nepal moved up to the fourth place in the points table with four points.
In another match, Thailand opted to bowl first to restrict the opponent to a minimum, the same ploy they used in the previous match. China started off well but once they lost Zhou Caiyun (12) their top scorer, they kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Leg-spinner Suleeporn Laomi was at her best as she took four wickets for four runs. China was not able to rotate the strike as a result of which Thailand bowled seven maiden overs in the 19.4 overs they batted to post 33 on the scoreboard. The host Thailand reached the score in 4.3 overs, but they will be disappointed to lose two wickets early. China gave 15 extra runs which help Thailand to score quickly.
UAE has already proved their worth by beating Nepal earlier by five which was one of the most exciting encounters in the tournament. UAE has already won two matches and was high on confidence before taking an experienced Hong Kong side, who came from a win after Keenu Gil and Mariko Hill played a century partnership against China. UAE was looking for early wickets as Hong Kong elected to bat first, winning the toss. Hong Kong was reduced to 30 for 3 as both Keenu and Mariko went back to the hut early. Panic had clearly set in as Shanzeen Shahzad was run out without facing a delivery and wicket-keeper Jenefer Davies wasn’t able to rescue her side as she had managed against Malaysia as she was bowled by Egodage for 1. Striving at 36 for 5 at the halfway mark, Sze Wan Yip (15) and Marina Lamplough (24) began to build a partnership for the seventh wicket as they played a 36-run partnership to take the teams score to 80. Egodage finished with 3 for 14 in her quota of four overs and Nisha Ali, player of the match against Nepal, collected two wickets in the final over of the innings to record even better figures of 3 for 9. UAE’s top-order got off to a slow start unlike other matches as Shubha Venkataraman made nine from 28 balls before getting out. Esha Oza was looking dangerous until she was dismissed by Marina Lamplough for 20 from 31 balls as UAE were 32 for two after 10 overs. Udeni Dona and Nisha Ali continued their good form to take their team one inch closer to the top two spot which will take them to Netherlands for the final qualifiers. Udeni remained not out at 22 from 28 balls and Nisha added 25 runs from 22 balls to be adjudged the player of the match after her heroics with both bat and ball.
However, there is a still lot left for Hong Kong but they will need results to go in their favor on the last day of league matches and also find a way of beating the hosts who are in top form. Thailand lead the table with seven points, UAE are second on six and Hong Kong third on five and Sunday’s fixtures see China face Nepal, UAE face Malaysia and Hong Kong have to take on Thailand. There is still plenty to play for in the lead-up to the third-place play-off and final which will be played on 27th November. UAE women’s team has really made a name for themselves in this tournament and they could go much further.