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July 14, 2007
Nepal Women 73 (Kanoujiya 13, Rawal 13, Nur Aisah 3-15) tied with Malaysia Women 73 for 9 (Arina Rahim 16, Rajopadhyay 4-8, Nary Thapa 3-10)
Malaysia came back from the brink of defeat to tie with Nepal and give themselves a slim chance of making the semis of the ACC women's tournament. Chasing 74 for victory Nepal were all out for 73 with ten balls remaining.
Alessandra Shunmugam ensured Malaysia won't go away from the tournament with nul points after dismissing Nepal's final batsman to ensure a tie.
After choosing to bat, Malaysia's meagre 73 seemed far from enough, but Nepal's own collapse following a comparatively steady start resulted in a rare tie. Extras were, predictably, the top score for both sides - Malaysia giving away 27. More streamlined bowling could have helped them to their first win. It was not to be.
Arina Rahim was the only Malaysia player to reach double figures - she made 16, which proved the highest score in the match. Nepal's openers Ritu Kanoujiya and Manisha Rawal each made 13 as they put on a promising 29 for the first wicket. As wickets tumbled but the score was edging closer to the total, Shanmugan held her nerve as Keshari Chaudhari was caught by Zoe Anne Landry for a second-ball duck.
Shanmugan, the first-change bowler, grabbed 2 for 13, while the best bowler was Nur Aishah, who returned 3 for 15.
Malaysia steadily accumulated runs against an attack which rarely bowled anything loose. Malaysia's batters never quite trusted themselves to go for big shots on a sluggish pitch of low bounce.
The left-arm seamer Nary Mager shone again for the visitors and Neera Rathopadya showed that against decent spin, batsmen new to the game can be really made to struggle. Going in to lunch Malaysia would have been happy with 73, Nepal certainly fancied their chances of getting the runs.
Playing straight more times than not, Nepal's opening pair put on 29 in 10 overs before Manisha Rawal was bowled by one from Aisha Ali which kept low. Rain then fell, with play held up for two hours. Malaysia came out the sharper and within minutes of the resumption thanks to two run-outs in two balls (Nepal's best bat Madhu Thapa dismissed without facing a ball) and another run-out four balls later, Nepal were 42 for 4 in the 14 th over. That became 45 for 5 and then 52 for 8 by the end of the 20th. Malaysia's young bowlers were on fire, the fielders could do no wrong and Nepal were staring defeat in the face.
Nepal's men and youth teams have shown over the years that they're fighters and Nepal's women did the same in this match, too. The ninth-wicket pair of Neera Rajaopadhya and Sita Mager simply blocked and played percentage cricket and the game started getting more and more interesting.
The pressure unfortunately got to Malayia's off-spinner Rewina Mohammed. She got the yips and bowled six wides in her second over, the 24 th of the innings. Malaysia's ace bowlers Winiefred Duraisingham and Landry had bowled themselves out by now.
With Malaysia only having five bowlers and one of them, Rosmawati Zamahuri, not fancying a bowl, Malaysia's captain Rahim had no choice but to bowl herself in the 28th over and did a pretty good job by only conceding 2 runs. By now however, Nepal were on 72, Rajaopadhya and Mager still at the crease.
Two overs left, two runs wanted for victory. "I trusted my team. I always believed we could win," said Malaysia's captain Rahim. Shunmugam, the schoolgirl left-arm spinner, came on to bowl. The field came in. A wide tied the scores.
The second legitimate ball of the over saw Rajaopadhya come down the wicket and miss, and a smart-piece of work by Eliani had the bails off. Nepal's last bat Chaudhari walked in, looking ever so tense. Another dot ball. Next ball, going for a huge pull over the top, left-hander Chaudhari sliced to point and Landry took a super catch low to her left.
Malaysia were ecstatic, Nepal miserable. For both sides it was their just their second full international match, many of those playing were girls more than women. All are young in playing years.
"There were tears on the bus back to the hotel," said Malaysia's coach Kalidas. "Tears of joy, tears of sadness tears of amazement at the realisation of how incredible this game of cricket can be."
The result means that a semi-final place is still open to both teams, with Malaysia's match against Thailand on Monday likely to be the determining one.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.