Bahrain will square off against hosts Malaysia today in their third Group A game of the 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Asia Qualifer in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The kingdom’s team is currently perched in fourth place in the six-team table with two points from a win and a loss in their first two games.
Malaysia are at the bottom of the list, having lost both their first two games, with zero points.
Despite that, Bahrain will not start as favourites because of the 10-wicket hammering they received from Nepal last Friday after being bowled out for only 31.
That loss had come just a day after the kingdom’s women got their tournament off to a bright start by beating Qatar by five wickets in the first game.
But Bahrain coach Azeem Ul Haque is backing his players to bounce back from the debacle and put on a good show.
“We had a long brainstorming session with the girls today,” he told the GDN by phone from Kuala Lumpur.
“They are in good spirits and will, I am sure, bounce back and play to their full potential. Most of all, though, I want them to enjoy the game – that’s what playing any sport is all about.”
Malaysia, themselves, have plenty to worry about after below-par displays in the two games they have played so far.
In the first, Malaysia restricted Nepal to 84 for six in their 20 overs but their own run-chase stuttered and they fell five runs short, at 79 for nine when their overs ran out.
And, in their second game against the UAE, Malaysia just failed to get going after electing to bat and finished with 64 for four off 16 overs in a rain-shortened game.
Needing to score at just four runs an over to win, the UAE – who are leading the table with four points from two consecutive wins – peeled off the required runs in a mere 12.5 overs for the loss of only three wickets.
However, Haque insisted Bahrain would not take Malaysia lightly.
“We played two practice matches against them before the start of the tournament,” he explained.
“They’re all teenagers, very talented but very young. And they’re a very energetic team and could spring a few surprises so our players will have to be on top of their game too.”
Bahrain, of course, will rely on their captain, former Sri Lanka international Deepika Rasangika – who holds the world record for the highest score in women’s T20Is after she scored 161 not out for Bahrain against Saudi Arabia last year – to lead by example and will hope that her compatriot Tharanga Gajanayke also finds some form at the top of the order.
The rest of the squad is comprised of mainly weekend cricketers with South Asian roots who do not boast too much experience of top-flight cricket between them.
Still, Haque is confident that his players possess the requisite potential to win and have already put the humbling 10-wicket loss to Nepal out of their minds.
“They’re fully focused on today’s game,” he asserted.
“And, if they play to their potential, we will beat Malaysia.”