Wednesday, February 28

Below-Par Batting Performances Troubling Nepal Women’s Team

  • Sandesh Sigdel

Nepal Women’s Cricket Team is currently in Malaysia competing for a place in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2024. Nepal had to fend off a scare from the home side after a poor batting performance in the first innings of the first match of the Asia Qualifiers.

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA – AUGUST 31: Images from the match between Malaysia and Nepal during the 2023 ICC Women’s T20 Asia Qualifier at Bayuemas Oval, Selangor, Malaysia on 31st August 2023. Photo by Peter Lim/ICC

Nepal were put into bat after losing the toss and had the worst start they could have imagined. Nepal lost three wickets in the first three deliveries. Opener Kajal Shrestha, Samjhana Khadka and Indu Barma were all sent back with golden ducks. Sita Rana Magar and Apsari Begam’s 51-run partnership for the sixth wicket helped Nepal conjure up 84 runs in 20 overs. Only three batters reached double figures.

But Nepal’s bowling at the death helped the team get a narrow escape. Malaysia required 17 runs in four overs at one stage with seven wickets in hand. The 17th over from Kabita Joshi gave away only two runs. The next over from Indu Barma also gave away only two. In the penultimate over bowled by Kabita again, Malaysia could only manage to score three runs but gave away three wickets including one run out. Needing ten runs in the final over, Malaysia only managed to score four runs in a Kabita Kunwar over handing Nepal the win by a slender margin. 

Today’s performance is not a one-off thing from the Nepali side. In the Quadrangular series played prior to the Qualifiers, the highest run total Nepal managed to score was 89 runs against comparatively weaker opposition in Kuwait. Nepal put just 83 runs on the board against Malaysia then in 18 overs and lost the match. The best batting performance came against Hong Kong in the series opener where Nepal chased down 85 runs in 15.5 overs. In the final, Nepal scored 37 in 5.3 overs to win the series via D/L method. 

Nepal have swerved the batting lineup a lot in the Malaysian tour. But the batting performances have been below expectations from the batters. Keeping the final of that series away from the observation, opener Puja Mahato managed to get into double figures only once in the whole series. Bindu Rawal hit the double figures once in the series- an innings of 20 runs in 45 deliveries. The two of her other innings brought out a combined one run.

Indu Barma was one of two batters who got into the double figures twice in the series. She also scored an unbeaten 19 runs in the final. Samjhana Khadka scored 36 in one inning but her run tally combined in the other two matches was three runs. Skipper Rubina Chhetri’s scores in the series were 10, 5 and 23. 

Experienced campaigner Sita Rana Magar opened in the final and made 13 runs. Her other three scores were 3, 7 and 9. 

So, it’s safe to say Nepal’s batting performance has been below par in the series leading up to the qualifiers. Nepal have bailed out results, thanks to bowling performances but the batting is a real concern for the team.

Nepal roped in former Mumbai Indians batting coach in the Women’s IPL Devika Palshikar to address the batting issue under a month ago until the end of the Qualifiers. The issues have been there for a while, as reiterated by Palshikar upon her arrival in Nepal. It can be said that she hasn’t had enough time to revamp the batting performances of the team but with the same old performances in the Qualifiers, Nepal will have their work cut out if they want to make the Qualifiers.

Nepal have matches against Qatar, Bhutan, Bahrain and the UAE, remaining in the group stages. Hong Kong, Kuwait, Thailand, China and Myanmar make up group B. Only the two teams that reach the final will qualify for the T20 World Cup next year. With a very short time to prepare in between games and matches coming thick and fast, Nepal will have to improve their batting performances and keep their bowling form intact if they want to make it to the big event next year. 

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