Bangladesh women’s cricket team held their nerve in the last over to beat Sri Lanka by two runs in a nail-biting final to win the gold medal in their discipline at the 13th South Asian Games in Pokhara, Nepal on Sunday.
Jahanara Alam bowled the crucial last over when Sri Lanka needed seven runs but the experienced pacer conceded just four runs to hand the team a thrilling win.
Bangladesh came in the tournament with a full-strength squad and dominated the opponents but appeared to have lost their tempo just when it mattered most.
Sri Lanka were ready to take the advantage of it, restricting Bangladesh to mere 91-8 in their 20 overs with Nigar Sultana top-scoring with an unbeaten 29.
It could have been much worse for Bangladesh after Umesha Thimashini (4-8) took four wickets in one over to reduce Bangladesh to 36-5 in just seven overs before Nigar and Fahima Khatun (15) made some recovery.
Bangladesh bowlers kept Sri Lanka under a tight leash in the opening few overs, reducing the side to 15-3 during the powerplay before Sri Lanka fought their way back into the contest with skipper Harshitha Madavi leading the charge.
Jahanara returned to her second spell to force Madavi give a catch behind the stumps, ending her fine innings at 32 and it should have been the match for Bangladesh.
But Sri Lankan lower-order showed extraordinary resilience to keep the scoreboard ticking, taking them close to their target.
The match seemed to have slipped away from Bangladesh’s grip once wicketkeeper Nigar conceded four bye runs in the penultimate over at a time when Sri Lanka needed just 11 runs from 12 balls.
But spinner Nahida Akter, who picked up 2-9 to lead Bangladesh’s bowling charge, kept her cool to bowl the next three balls as dot, which kept the equation seven runs from the last over.
Jahanara did the rest to restrict Sri Lanka to 89-9, earning Bangladesh women’s team the coveted gold medal in their maiden appearance in the SA Games.
‘I bowled in a manner as if I needed to defend five runs, not seven runs,’ Jahanara told reporters after the match. ‘I always believed that we would win. I thought if I can bowl three dot balls, it will be difficult for Sri Lanka to beat us,’ she said.
Bangladesh skipper Salma Khatun echoed the same, adding that at no stage of the game it came to her mind that Bangladesh could lose.
‘We had the confidence because our bowlers were experienced. Though we lost four wickets in one over, our lower-order recovered well to give us a kind of score that we believed we could defend,’ she said.
Salma also thanked Bangladesh Olympic Association for including and sending the women’s cricket team to the SA Games.
‘We don’t get too many matches to play. So definitely it came as an important competition for us. You can see how girls are happy to win this medal today [Sunday],’ said the all-rounder.
Source: New Age.