Nepali women cricketers set to play their first international tournament on home groundThe team, currently preparing for the Games at Pokhara Stadium, stand confident of winning gold.
The Nepali women’s cricket team is all set to play their first international tournament on home ground since the team’s inception 12 years ago. They will be playing at the 13th South Asian Games, which has included cricket for the first time in the history of the regional sports spectacle.
The women’s cricket tournament will be played in the round-robin format at the Pokhara Stadium, where Nepal will be playing against the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
In their first match, Nepal will take on the Maldives on December 2, followed by a match against Bangladesh two days later. The last league-stage match will see Nepal clash against Sri Lanka on December 6. The teams that come in third and fourth place in the league stage will compete for the bronze on December 7 while the top two teams will contest for the gold on December 8.
Head-coach Jagat Tamata has been assigned with the responsibility of managing Nepal’s final squad of 18 players. A total of 35 players were selected for the closed camp, which was trimmed to 25 players before the final team to contest at the tournament was announced.
Team Nepal will be led by skipper and allrounder Rubina Chhetry, and includes ace player Sita Magar. Meanwhile, coach Tamata has identified Kabita Kunwar, Dolly Bhatta, Roma Thapa and Apsari Begam as players to watch out for when the tournament kicks off.
Nepali women’s cricket team first made headlines after they finished as runners up at the Women’s Twenty20 Smash in Bangkok, Thailand, in January earlier this year.
Coach Tamata says, “The team has significantly improved after the four-month-long closed camp. Our target is to win gold and we are confident because the team has improved its batting skills to match with its bowling prowess.”
“We see Bangladesh as our major competition for gold at the tournament,” said Tamata, while adding, “We have lost against them in previous tournaments, but as we have studied their game, we are confident of avenging past defeats.”
“No team is guaranteed a victory in Twenty20 cricket. The team making the best use of their opportunities emerge as winners,” he added.
Team Nepal are currently practising at Pokhara grounds, the venue which is set to host the women’s cricket tournament. “Playing at the venue before the tournament gives the players an advantage, as they get familiar with the outfield conditions,” said Tamata. “Success in the tournament is not too far for them, considering their dedication and the effort they have put in their game.”
A temporary parapet is being installed on the cricket grounds while temporary changing rooms and toilets are being built as well. However, the practice pitch remains to be completed. District Cricket Association President Sanjay Kant Sigdel has assured that all preparations for the tournament will be completed by Saturday.
Rubina Chhetry (captain), Sita Rana Magar (vice captain), Indu Barma, Kajal Shrestha (wicketkeeper), Karuna Bhandari, Apsari Begam, Sonu Khadka, Saraswati Chaudhary, Mamta Chaudhary, Anjali Chand, Sarita Magar, Shanti Khatiwada, Roma Thapa, Dolly Bhatta, Kabita Kunwar
Reserve players: Jyoti Pandey, Sangita Rai, Asmita Karmacharya