Bahrain slumped to a demoralising, eight-wicket defeat yesterday against a strong Hong Kong side in their second Group B match in the 2022 Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Women’s T20 Championship in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur.
Sent in to bat after Hong Kong captain, Kary Chan, won the toss, Bahrain collapsed to 17 for six in the ninth over before a dogged 37-run stand in just over six overs between captain and star batter, Deepika Rasangika, and all-rounder, Pavithra Shetty took the score to 54 before Shetty fell for 17.
54 for seven soon became 59 for nine before Rasangika, who top-scored with 47 not out, unfurled some lusty blows in an unbroken 20-run stand with number 11, Gayani Fernando, to take the score to 79 for nine at the end of the allotted 20 overs.
In reply, Hong Kong needed only 11.4 overs to overhaul the target with captain, Chan, combining with Natasha Miles, at one-drop, in an unbroken, 45-run partnership after the first two wickets had fallen for 36 in the sixth over.
“What can one say?” a disappointed Bahrain coach, Prabodha Arthavidu, told the GDN by phone from Kuala Lumpur shortly after the game. “We didn’t bat well, we didn’t execute the basics well. Even though Rasangika showed her class again, none of the other batters were able to give her any support.”
Five Bahrain batters were out for ducks with no one other than Rasangika and Shetty able to make it into double-figures, Arthavidu pointed out.
“Even though we started off bowling well and were able to prise out a couple of wickets, we missed a few chances in the field,” he continued. “When you’re defending a small target against a quality team like Hong Kong, you can’t afford to make mistakes like that.”
Nepal and Hong Kong are now on top of the group table with four points each, with Bahrain and Kuwait level on one point each after a washout and a loss in their two matches so far. Bhutan, the fifth team in the group, have lost both their games.
Bahrain are due to play Nepal – considered one of the tournament favourites, along with Hong Kong and Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who are in Group A – today that Arthavidu called a ‘must-win’ game.
“We still have a chance of making the semi-finals if we can tip over Nepal today and then beat Bhutan on Wednesday,” he stressed. “I believe we can do that. We’re making no excuses for our performance today because we have a ‘no-excuses’ policy – I know the girls understand that they have to work hard to get over the line in the next two matches.”
Given that this was the Bahrain team’s seventh T20I, after they played their first-ever game in the format during the GCC Women’s Twenty20 Championship Cup in Oman last March, even a losing cause, such as the one yesterday, would aid the team’s learning curve, Arthavidu said.
“We’re competing against teams like the UAE, Nepal, Hong Kong and Malaysia, which have been playing international women’s cricket for more than a decade,” he explained. “They have proper facilities to grow the game. We have only been in the international arena for less than six months and play on artificial pitches at home. Just the fact these girls – almost all of whom are weekend amateurs – are competing so well against hardened professionals is proof of their commitment.
“We’re making investments for the future of Bahrain cricket, not just in terms of the infrastructure we want to build but also in terms of the players we’re grooming. Today, young Poorvaja Jagdeesha, who is yet to turn 15, made her debut. I told her that she, and players like her, represent the future of Bahrain’s cricket.”