Nepal aim for history in Asia Women’s Cup against UAE

Kathmandu, July 11: Participating in the Women’s T20 Asia Cup for the third time, Nepal has a chance to make history while facing the UAE in the opening match of the tournament in Sri Lanka on July 19.

Nepal debuted in the tournament in 2012 when China hosted the Women’s Asia Cup in T20 format for the first time; earlier, it was played across 50 overs. The second participation for Nepal was in 2016 when Thailand hosted the tournament. 

However, Nepal has not won a single match in the two championships. Nepal suffered defeat in the group stage against Bangladesh, China and Sri Lanka in 2012. On the other hand, Nepal did not win a single of the five matches against India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Thailand in 2016.

While defeating Test nations like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh is not easy for Nepal, the women’s squad is looking for their first win in their biggest tournament this time. 

And the best chance for the first win will be against the UAE. It is because the other opponents of Nepal in the group stage are India and Pakistan.

Previous encounters

As of July 2, the UAE (16th) ranks five positions higher than Nepal (21st) in the ICC Women’s T20I Rankings. Nepal’s other opponents, India and Pakistan, rank third and eighth respectively.

Nepal and the UAE, as Associate nations, have met each other in different tournaments over the years. Since January 2019, Nepal and the UAE had five fixtures, of which two ended without a result. Of the remaining three matches, Nepal has won two and lost one. Nepal defeated the UAE in the Thailand Women’s T20 Smash on January 14, 2019. 

A month later, on February 22, 2019, the UAE suffered another defeat against Nepal in the T20 World Cup Asia Qualifiers in Thailand. 

Nevertheless, when the two teams met two years later, the UAE were better prepared. In the T20 World Cup Asia Qualifiers of 2021, the UAE, on November 28, defeated Nepal in their home.

On the other hand, Nepal’s fixture against the UAE in the semi-final of the ACC Women’s T20 Championship on June 24, 2022, could not conclude after the first inning. The UAE was bundled out at 81 runs but Nepal did not get the chance to chase the target due to weather restrictions. The UAE progressed to the final based on points and went on to lift the Cup after defeating Malaysia in the final.

Nepal’s fifth and latest fixture against the UAE in the ICC Women’s T20 WC Qualifier on September 6, 2023, was also abandoned due to weather, this time without a ball bowled. 

As the duo is now meeting a year later in Sri Lanka, they hope that rain does not affect their faceoff this time.

Similar squad

Nepal’s 15-member squad for the Women’s Asia Cup consists of half of the players who faced the UAE in January 2019. Kajal Shrestha, Sita Rana Magar, Dolly Bhatta, Indu Barma, Rubina Chhetri, Kabita Kunwar and Roma Thapa were playing for Nepal in the Thailand Women’s T20 Smash. The seven players are in the 15-member squad for Sri Lanka.

Likewise, Kabita Joshi and Sabnam Rai, who faced the UAE in November 2021 are also in the squad for the Women’s T20 Asia Cup. Similarly, Bindu Rawal and Mamta Chaudhary were in the squad against the UAE in January 2022.

Rajmati Airee, Kritika Marasini, Samjhana Khadka and Puja Mahato are the four players who will be playing against the UAE for the first time. The 15-player squad is being led by head coach Manoj Katwal. Katwal, in an interview with the CAN before heading for Sri Lanka, stated that the team was improving in batting and physicality. 

Meanwhile, the two regular losses against the Sri Lanka Development Team in training matches in the past two days have shown that the team has more to achieve. 

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