|Wu Juan and Zhou Haijie took six of the Hong Kong wickets to fall|
“We’re under a lot of pressure,” China’s captain Huang Zhou said before the match, “we have to win this tournament.” Twice ACC Women’s finalists before, today in their first match of the 2014 ACC Women’s Premier at the splendid Royal Chiang Mai Golf Course ground, China shook off their shackles and played with a positivity and freedom that was just too much for a very sound and capable Hong Kong side, winning by 30 runs.
The ground of green velvet was a credit to the groundstaff in this, the north Thailand dry season. Winning the toss and batting, China were in it to win it from the start. Opener Zhang Mei played a straight drive on the up off Hong Kong’s pace-bowling captain Ishitaa Gidwani that was even so early in the day, the stroke of the match. “5000 throwdowns I gave her yesterday,” says China’s coach Monjurul Islam. The pay off: class strokes, along with a sore shoulder. There was plenty of “jai yoh” from both sides early on, and Hong Kong’s fielders and bowlers did very well to pull back China after their brisk start. Hong Kong’s fielding under new coach Najeeb Amar (recalled to the senior side for the World Twenty20 next month) was very good, and their fine attack has been boosted by the addition of two new players. McGrath-like in metronomy Claire Crewdson (4-12) bowled very well from the Temple End with off-cutters at brisk pace. From the Clubhouse End Leslie Dela Pena took 5-24 with her off-breaks. China were dismissed for 107 in the 35th over; Hong Kong had done well. One further instance of how much China wanted to win today, little Zhou Haijie, the smallest player on the field, batting at 10, pulled her first ever career 6.
|Chan Sau Ha bowled very well for Hong Kong|
Even if its batsmen who get the most fame, its bowlers who decide matches. China’s bowlers were even better than Hong Kong’s. Hang Lilie bowled To Yee Shan round her legs with a leg-break that ripped a foot, but Zhou Haijie was the pick of them. Tossing the ball up high, her off-breaks zipped off the wicket and caused Hong Kong’s batters all sorts of problems. She struck twice before the lunch interval, and then had the three big guns of the Hong Kong line-up Crewdson, Hill and Gidwani back in the tent for very little. Chan Sau Ha (25 off 59) batted well for Hong Kong, playing with discipline and composure but the challenge was to big to manage all by herself. China fielded well, set their field to plug the gaps and made even regulation singles difficult for Hong Kong.
|China's Zhou Haijie spins her web|
Player of the Match Zhou Haijie’s tiny, smiles a lot and plays with a fundamental joy and simplicity which makes one realize that before winning and losing, after practice and training, cricket is a game one doesn’t do or perform or use, it’s a game one plays. The play is the thing. If Zhou hadn’t been recognized for her 6-1-8-5, she’d have been cited for that audacious tail-end 6, but what really makes her stand out is her attitude. A fresh China has come to this tournament, and they could well go all the way.
ACC Women’s Premier 2014
Day 2: China v Hong Kong at Royal Chiang Mai Golf Course
CHINA WON BY 30 RUNS
China won the toss and chose to bat
China: 107 all out off 34.4 overs (C.Crewdson 4-12, L. Dela Pena 5-24)
Hong Kong: 77 all out off 32.5 overs (Z.Haijie 5-8, H.Lili 3-29)
Player of the Match: Zhou Haijie (China)
Filed February 12th, 2014