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Young national squad gears up

ACC Women’s Championship, Thailand: For the last month, the national women’s cricket team has been practising and honing their skills at the Yangchenphug ground, for the upcoming ACC Women’s Championship in Thailand this month.

The team of 18, including four technical staff, will leave for Thailand on January 20, to participate in the championship, which will be from January 23 to 31.

Competition is expected to get tougher, and the stakes are high, as the winner will move on to play at the Women’s World Twenty20 qualifier in Ireland in August this year.

Bhutan is clubbed in the same group as Nepal and Hong Kong, the two strongest sides in the championship.  Other teams are Malaysia, UAE and Afghanistan.

Bhutan will play its first match against Malaysia at the Prem Oval in Chiang Mai on January 23, and the second match at the Royal Chiang Mai Golf Club the next day against Nepal. The next three games against Hong Kong, UAE and Afghanistan will be played at Prem Oval and Gymkhana on January 25, 27, and 28.

If Bhutan wins four matches with a “good” net run rate, it might qualify for the semis. “Our strength lies in our team spirit and we’re practicing to win,” pace bowler Devika Darjee said.

Wicket keeper Dechen Wangmo, who was the bats women of the tournament in the last U19 championship, said the players are giving their best during the training sessions.  She added that other teams practised in the same place to get acclimatised, and usually have an upper hand in the game.

“The girls display a positive attitude when wearing the national colours, and there’s always a fighting spirit in them,” national coach Damber Singh Gurung said.

Bhutan bagged third position in the ACC U19 Women’s Championship, which was held in Kuwait last February.  This year, the team plans to focus on the basics.

Team manager Deki Yangzom said the current squad comprises U19 girls, who represented the country in Kuwait last year. “Other participating teams are more matured and experienced at the senior level, and it will be a tough task for the current national squad to compete with the elites,” she said. “But the team is giving their best to get ready for the challenge.”

By Sherub Dorji

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