The first of the Asian Cricket Council's newly streamlined tournaments got underway today with the opening round of matches in the ACC Women's Premier 2014. The six best women's teams at this level in Asia are playing each other in a 40-over league in which the winners will go forward into a qualifying tournament for the next Women's World Twenty20.
Thailand won the Women’s Championship in 2013 and will be looking to repeat that success over a longer format. Hong Kong and Bhutan were closely matched last time with Hong Kong finishing in fourth place and Bhutan in fifth so expectations were for a competitive match when the teams met at Prem but Hong Kong were clearly superior side as they bowled out Bhutan for 80 and reached their target of 81 with more than 20 overs to spare to win by nine wickets.
Bhutan won the toss and chose to bat first and there was a contrasting start for Hong Kong's opening bowlers as Mariko Hill conceded nine wides in her first over but Ho Hung Ying took the wicket of Yeshey Wangmo with her first ball.
There followed a much better second over by Mariko Hill as she finally found her line to left-handed opener Ugyen Dema to dismiss her lbw and she also had Choening Tenzing lbw two balls later. Captain Dechen Wangmo and Sonam Pelden still had plenty of time to rebuild Bhutan's innings.
Dechen Wangmo has hit the first boundary of the innings as she struck Ho Hung Ying over mid-on for four but it has been a rare moment of offence as Bhutan seemed intent on survival in this unfamiliar form of cricket. Slow left-arm spinner Chan Sau Ha was introduced into the attack and Dechen Wangmo, growing in confidence, hit her through the covers for four, and Clare Crewdson was bowling her medium pace in her first match for Hong Kong, having previously played for New South Wales. At drinks after the first hour Bhutan had recovered to 49 for 3 in 14 overs.
Chan Sau Ha has taken plenty of wickets in junior cricket and in shorter formats of the game with her flighted spin and took her first wicket in this competition as Dechen Wangmo tried to clear mid-on only to be caught by Mariko Hill for 23 as Bhutan lost their fourth wicket with the score on 52.
Sonam Peldon was proving an obdurate opponent as she contributed just four to the partnership of 40 but she hit her first boundary after facing 50 balls. Sonam Lhamo and Sonam Choden didn’t last long as both were bowled by the Chan Sau Ha and the talented spinner took a third wicket in the over as Yeshey Wangmo was stumped. 52 for 3 had quickly become 57 for 7.
Bhutan's innings had completely fallen apart in the face of some gentle but mesmerizing spin. Chan Ka Ying induced a run out as Devika Darjee hit strongly in to the leg-side and after Chan Sau Ha had been taken off with figures of 4 for 13, newcomer Leslie Dela Pena took a wicket with her off-spin as Anju Gurung was lbw to leave the score on 65 for 9. To Ye Shan was also given the chance to bowl her right-arm spin but Chan Sau Ha finally had a chance to bowl her hat-trick ball. She was unsuccessful with the first ball of her new spell but did take her fifth wicket to end the innings as Tshering Wangmo was caught at gully. Bhutan were bowled out for 80 as Chan Sau Ha finished with figures of 5 for 19 and Sonam Peldon was left unbeaten on 19.
After a ten minute break between innings Hong Kong had 50 minutes to bat before lunch. Bhutan's bowlers had a chance to claim early wickets but Hong Kong's openers Yip Sze Wan and To Yee Shan have looked untroubled against the new ball.
Hong Kong continued to make steady progress towards their target of 81 as spin had now been introduced at both ends but without having the same dramatic effect as in Bhutan's innings. Yip Sze Wan and To Yee Shan were showing admirable patience and were gaining great encouragement from their enthusiastic team-mates.
Just when it looked as if their openers would make it through to lunch Hong Kong lost their first wicket on 49 as To Yee Shan was caught off an attempted cut shot off the bowling of Ugyen Dema. Yip Sze Wan hit a pair of fours from the next over as Hong Kong were 59 for 1 from 14 overs at lunch.
Hong Kong needed only 15 minutes more play after lunch to complete an impressive victory by nine wickets. Yip Sze Wan produced exactly the innings required chasing a small target in a 40-over match as she was unbeaten on 39 from 57 balls. She played with great composure but still hit six boundaries as she waited for the right opportunity.
It was a very impressive performance from Hong Kong, particularly from the two openers and from left-arm spinner Chan Sau Ha who was named player of the match for her figures of 5 for 19.
ACC Women's Premier 2014, Day 1:
Bhutan v Hong Kong at Prem Oval
HONG KONG WON BY NINE WICKETS
Bhutan won the toss and chose to bat
Bhutan: 80 all out off 23.5 overs (C.S. Ha 5-19)
Hong Kong: 81 for 1 of 18.1 overs (Y.S.Wan 39*)
Player of the Match: Chan Sau Ha (Hong Kong)
Filed February 11th, 2014