20 June 2023
By Jay Dansinghani
Bangladesh-A beat Pakistan-A by six runs in the second semi-final at the ACC Women’s Emerging Teams Asia Cup to set up a marquee clash with India-A in the final. Nahida Akter starred with a quick-fire 21, which rescued her team from 16 for six and propelled them to 59 for seven in a shortened 9-over game.
The all-rounder was adjudged Player-of-the-match for her important cameo in the first innings coupled with a wicket in the second innings.
After winning the toss and choosing to bat first, Bangladesh-A got off to a horrendous start, losing three wickets in the first over of the game. Opposition skipper Fatima Sana clipped the top of Shathi Rani’s off stump before taking a simple return catch to dismiss Sobhana Mostary. Captain Lata Mondal played all around a dipping yorker to leave Bangladesh reeling at 5 for three after the first over.
Bangladesh-A’s slide continued as Murshida Khatun hit Anosha Nasir to Fatima Sana at mid wicket before Tuba Hassan’s strong throw from the deep caught Shorna Akter short of her crease.
Umm-e-Hani let the pressure off her opponents with a wide half volley, which Akter slashed away for four to get off the mark. To make matters worse, she overstepped and Akter whipped the subsequent free hit off her pads for another boundary.
Syeda Aroob Shah began her spell with five wides to further calm Bangladesh-A’s nerves. To her credit, the leg-spinner came back strongly in her next over, conceding just three runs to limit the score to 46 for six with one over left.
Yet, Bangladesh-A was not done fighting. Akter and Sultana Khatun smashed a six each off Hassan to set up a chase of 60 for the Fatima Sana-led unit.
Aggressive opener Eyman Fatima stamped her authority on the game with a shot over long on for six and two boundaries through the off side off Sanjida Akter. Shawaal Zulfiqar joined in the party, smashing Rabeya Khan down the ground for her first four of the innings.
Yet, Rabyea would come back strongly, getting Eyman Fatima caught at deep mid wicket before Lata Mondal took a catch off Nahida Akter’s bowling to dismiss Zulfiqar.
With the score on 33 for two after six overs, and with a further 27 needed off the last 18 balls, Pakistan needed boundaries.
One of those boundaries came off the bat of Sadaf Shamas. Yet, the right-hander didn’t last long. She was bowled for 8 by Rabeya after coming down the track and getting squared up.
Fatima Sana did not give up hope as she creamed Marufa Akter through extra cover for four to reduce the equation to 14 required off 8 balls.
Marufa would come back strong, bowling Natalia Pervaiz for 2 to give Sanjida 13 runs to defend off the last over. The left-arm spinner stepped up when it mattered. She put a disappointing first over behind her, limiting Pakistan-A to six singles to give Bangladesh-A a memorable victory at the Tin Kwong Road Recreation Ground.
The ground staff and volunteers who worked tirelessly to make this contest possible deserve a special mention. After Hong Kong was blanketed by four amber rainstorms and one red rainstorm in the space of five days, their hard work enabled another last-over thriller to be played out at the ACC Women’s Emerging Teams Asia Cup.
Tomorrow’s final between India-A and Bangladesh-A will begin at 11:30 am local time. Admission is free and shaded seating areas will be available for spectators seeking respite from the sun.