China maintained their unbeaten record in the ACC Women’s Premier, defeating Bhutan by 36 runs at the Prem Oval in Chiang Mai. It was, however, a closer run thing than the score suggests and China’s bowlers had to be at their best against a blossoming Bhutan side, who finally showed in this tournament something close to their potential.

“I told them not to over-think things and just go out and enjoy themselves,” said Bhutan’s coach Damber Singh Gurung. The benefits were apparent, and had their captain Dechen Wangmo (39 off 50 balls) been able to bat longer Bhutan could even have won the game. Their bowling in the morning was steady, as was China’s batting. China this tournament have been in the habit of getting out either to ordinary or extraordinary deliveries. Opener Zhang Mai shows flair and considerable talent but today, after getting herself in and middling a heap of deliveries to fielders, toe-ended a swat against the spin of Dechen Wangmo to be out for 38. Anju Gurung bowled well without finding one of those late inswingers (“magic balls” her team calls them) and had terrific support from Tshering Wangmo (3-21) who bowled with pace on a fullish length. On a good wicket, China didn’t work quite enough singles nor did they impose themselves in their innings. Steady bowling met steady batting. China finished their 40 overs on 161 for 5.

Zhang Mei and China learn that catches win matches

Bhutan lost an early wicket when Ugyen Dema was trapped in front by off-spinner Zhou Haijie who opened the bowling from the Farmyard End. The day before against Nepal Bhutan’s captain Dechen Wangmo had batted within herself, trying to bat out 40 overs when chasing, “today I said she should play like it was a Twenty20”. And play it like that she did. A cover drive on the up was peerless and then a cut rasped off Dechen’s bat, a pull to midwicket was powerful and authoritative and China were worried. Bhutan were 50 for 1 after 13 overs. And then little leg-spinner Han Lili – taller than little off-spinner Zhou Haijie but there’s not much in it – came on from the School End and had Yeshey Choden beaten ball after ball. A single was scrambled and to the first ball Dechen faced from Lili, short and outside off it was, she leant back and played a pull to midwicket. It would have reached the boundary too had Zhang Mei, running to her right from mid-on not dived full length to take a game-changing catch. Dechen had made 39 of the 48 runs scored while she was at the crease. Her anguish in being out was immense.

Han Lili wheels away

Nevertheless the rest of Bhutan’s batters showed pluck and tried hard, Sonam Choden and Yeshey Wangmo not afraid to come down the wicket to the spinners, but China had too many options, too much game sense for the relatively inexperienced Bhutanese to cope. China’s wicket-keeper Liu Xionan looks a real find. Lili finished with 4 for 33, and there were three run-outs too.

Played three, won three – Nepal and Thailand await. “It’s gone as well as I could have expected,” says China’s coach Monjurul Islam, “the girls are responding well and taking on more responsibility with every game. China play Nepal at Chiang Mai Gymkhana tomorrow.

ACC Women’s Premier 2014

Day 5: Bhutan v China at Prem Oval
China won the toss and chose to bat
China: 161 for 5 off 40 overs (Z.Mei 38; T.Wangmo 3-21)
Bhutan: 125 all out off 37.1 overs (D.Wangmo 39; H.Lili 4-33)
Player of the Match: Han Lili (China)

Tournament Page

Filed February 15th, 2014