Jahanara Alarm defended seven runs off the final over as Bangladesh sealed a nail-biting victory against Sri Lanka by two runs in Pokhara yesterday to clinch the gold medal in the women’s cricket event at the 13th South Asian Games.
Bangladesh’s premier pace bowler came to bowl the last over as Sri Lanka looked on course for an upset win in chase of just score 91 for eight from their 20 overs.
But Jahanara conceded only two runs off the first three balls, pressuring Kahini Apsara, who till then looked comfortable in the middle, batting on 23 off 26 deliveries. The right-hander, however, succumbed to the pressure, getting run out while trying to go for a risky double.
The next ball went for a single before another run-out off the last ball handed Bangladesh the title of the inaugural edition of the women’s competition in these regional games.
Jahanara, who has seen Bangladesh through in many a pressure match like this before, said she was confident of the victory.
“I was thinking that they need five runs instead of seven from the last over. I made the equation in my mind like that and I knew if I could bowl two or three dot balls, they would be under pressure,” said Jahanara, who ended with figures of one for 17.
It was a collective effort from the Bangladesh bowlers, with Nahida Akter playing the lead role by taking one wicket for only nine runs, offsetting the pressure of a couple of dropped chances. But Spears threatened to take the game away from Bangladesh, only for Jahanara to steal victory.
Earlier, Bangladesh had made a brisk start, moving to 36 for one in six overs before losing back-to-back wickets. Thanks to an unbeaten 29 from Nigar Sultana and 15 from Fahima Khatun, Bangladesh managed to set up a total which eventually proved to be just enough.
Skipper Salma Khatun, who was a member of Bangladesh’s silver wins in both the 2010 and 2014 Asian Games and captained the side to famous Asia Cup win in Malaysia last year, was happy to add another accolade to the team’s cabinet.
“We may have won the title in the Asia Cup, but winning the SA Games gold is special because the SA Games is the biggest event of this region. This is a special victory because we won the title of the first edition of the event,” said the skipper, who gave away only 12 runs for one wicket after having failed with the bat.
The veteran all-rounder hoped that this victory would catapult the side to greater things in the future.
MEN’S TEAM LOSE TO SL IN FINAL’S DRESS REHEARSAL
Meanwhile, the men’s team suffered a shock nine-wicket defeat in their final round-robin game in Kathmandu against Sri Lanka, a team they will face today too, in the final.
After being asked to bat first, Bangladesh, who rested Soumya Sarkar and skipper Nazmul Hossain ahead of the key match, set up 150 for six, thanks to a 38-ball 44 from wicketkeeper Mahidul Islam Angkon and a 45-ball 51 from Yasir Ali.
Sri Lanka hardly broke a sweat and cruised to the target in 16.1 overs, losing just a single wicket.
Opener Pathum Nissanka blasted 67 off 52 deliveries while Lasith Croospulle smashed 73 runs off 41 balls.
Bangladesh captain Nazmul was not all that worried by the result as he felt it was a test of their depth in difficult conditions.
“I don’t see it as a negative. We rested a few regular players because we will be playing four matches on the trot. We also reshuffled the batting order to give the lower-order batters some time in the middle ahead of the final,” the captain said after the match.
The final is scheduled to begin at 1:15pm (Bangladesh time) at the Tribhuvan University Ground today.