Thinley Namgay 

The national men’s cricket team still has a chance to advance to the semifinals in the ongoing 2023 ACC Men’s Challenger Cup in Thailand. But it is not entirely in their hands. Bhutan will have to beat the Maldives and hope Bahrain defeat Iran.

Bhutan is placed in group A against Bahrain, Iran and the Maldives. As of yesterday, Bahrain is leading the group with four points followed by Iran and the Maldives with two points each.

“We still have one last hope for the semifinal. Bahrain has to thrash Iran and Bhutan has to thrash the Maldives. Then we can qualify with Net Run Rate,” Bhutan Cricket’s Chief Executive Officer, Damber S Gurung said.

Net Run Rate is a statistical method used to analyse team performance.  As of yesterday, Bahrain has a Net Run Rate of 4.2, Iran  0.23,  the Maldives -2.67 and Bhutan -1.16.

Damber S Gurung said the team didn’t play well as expected despite preparing well. “We need to bat well. We have to know where we are lagging and push forward. It’s not going to be easy, but we have a good bunch of cricketers with talents,” he said.

Bhutan lost two straight games against Iran and Bahrain. On February 26, Iran defeated Bhutan by a whopping 50 runs in the 50 overs game.

Iran batted first and made 150 runs in 48.3 overs losing all wickets. However, Bhutan lost all wickets in just 24 overs managing only 100 runs. On February 24, Bhutan lost to Bahrain by seven wickets despite an improved performance.

The final match is scheduled on March 5.  Of the eight teams, the top two will be selected and join the UAE, Nepal, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia in the second round of Asia Cup Qualifiers tournament in April called ACC Men’s Premier Cup.

The winner of the ACC Men’s Premier Cup will secure a spot in the Men’s Asia Cup, while the top three teams will get a chance to participate in the Emerging Cup in Sri Lanka.

Bhutan’s last international appearance was in June last year at the first Quadrangular Series 2022 in Malaysia.