A fine all-round performance by skipper Deepika Rasangika led Bahrain to a five-wicket win over Qatar in their opening game of the 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Asia Qualifier in Bangi, Malaysia, yesterday.
Rasangika first returned economical figures of one for 23 off four overs of leg-spin as Qatar were restricted to 116 for seven off their 20 overs before anchoring Bahrain’s run-chase with a breath-taking 74 not out off only 56 balls enabling the kingdom’s team to reach the target with five wickets and ten balls to spare.
Coming in at number three with the score seven for one after opener Tharanga Gajanayake was prised out by Hira Agarwal’s off-spin for four, Rasangika blasted 11 fours, holding Bahrain’s innings together after the team slumped to 69 for three in the 11th over.
Such was the left-hander’s dominance that the other opener, Rasika Rodrigo, only contributed three runs in a second-wicket stand of 44 in just six overs before she also fell to Agarwal for four.
Even the loss of Abeera Waris, also for four, to medium-pacer Sabah Nawab with Bahrain three down for 69 and 48 still needed to win in slightly more than nine overs couldn’t slow Rasangika’s onslaught.
And she shifted into an even higher gear when, an over later, Ishara Suhun was caught and bowled by Sudha Thapa for five, with Bahrain now 78 for four after 11.3 overs.
Rasangika then dominated a 23-run stand for the fifth wicket with Gayani Fernando before the latter was run out for five with the score 101 for five after 16 overs and only 16 more needed for victory.
All-rounder Pavithra Shetty, in at seven, joined Rasangika and contributed an unbeaten nine off just four balls before the Bahrain captain hit the winning runs.
“This is just the kind of start we needed to make in the tournament so I’m very happy with the team’s performance,” a delighted Bahrain coach, Azeem Ul Haque told the GDN by phone from Kuala Lumpur after the squad had returned to the team hotel from Bangi, a small town about 30km from the Malaysian capital.
“Our players showed full commitment and, once they had their opponents under pressure, they made sure to capitalise on it.”
Earlier, after Qatar captain Aysha – who goes by just one name – won the toss and elected to bat, the medium-pace of Shetty and the off-spin of Sadamali Bhakshala kept the openers in check before the off-spinner trapped Khadija Imtiaz leg-before-wicket (lbw) for three with the score 14 for one after four overs.
Two overs later, Shetty got in on the wickets too after appealing successfully for lbw against the other opener, Shrutiben Rana who departed for a 22-ball 17.
Qatar were now 24 for two after 6.1 overs and, although Aysha, in at four, was striking the ball sweetly, found themselves in a bigger spot of bother three overs later when one-drop Saachi Dhadwal was caught by Manal Malik off Rasangika’s leg-spin with the scoreboard now reading 53 for three after 9.4 overs.
Aysha, though, was looking dangerous and added 47 for the fourth wicket with Sabeeja Panayan in just under seven overs. At 100 for three with four overs still left in the innings, Qatar were poised to make a big charge.
Unfortunately for them, disaster struck. Panayan, who had matched her captain stroke for stroke in the fourth-wicket stand, was forced to retire hurt just then. And Sabah Nawab was smartly run out by Rasangika for nought off the very next ball with Qatar now 100 for four (effectively five down because Panayan was unlikely to bat again) in the 17th over.
Qatar now looked to their captain, Aysha, to try and add as many runs she could in the remaining 20 deliveries. But there was more hard luck in store for the Qataris just an over later as Aysha failed to beat a hard, fast throw from Shetty to Ashwini Govinda and was also run out for a well-played, 32-ball 41.
Qatar were now 106 for five after 17.2 overs and when six balls later, a third successive run out accounted for Aleena Khan for five, had slumped to 109 for six with just 10 deliveries left in the innings off which Rochelle Quyn and Rizpha Bano Emmanuel somehow managed to scramble seven more runs.
“I think Aysha’s run out was a key moment for us,” Haque explained.
“She was looking very good and, had she stayed on till the end of the innings, could have ensured that Qatar ended up with a good total in the 140-plus region.
“Later, of course, when we batted, it was all Deepika! She kept calm, made sure she stayed in the middle, ensured that she batted deep and took the side home.”
Bahrain will now take on Nepal today in their second game.