Thinley Namgay 

The national women’s cricket team landed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) yesterday to participate in their first International Cricket Council’s (ICC) T20 World Cup Asia Qualifiers.

Organised by the ICC, the tournament will begin in Dubai from November 22 to 28.

Bhutan will play the first game against Kuwait on November 22 at ICC Academy Ground 1. As a warm-up session, Bhutan will face the UAE on November 18 and 19.

The tournament was supposed to be held in Malaysia. However, the ICC changed the venue to Dubai due to rising Covid-19 cases in Malaysia.

The 29-year-old skipper, Yeshey Choden, who has played for the national team for 14 years, and deputy captain Anju Gurung, 28,  will lead the squad.

Bhutan Cricket (BC) press officer Tandin Wangchuk said that the BC have high expectations of the team.

“We have prepared them well. Fitness is top-notch. And the best thing is the team has been playing and practising together for the last 10 months for this tournament,” Tandin Wangchuk said.

The women trained in Gelephu and Thimphu before leaving for the tournament.

Five officials, including the newly appointed cricket coach from Sri Lanka, Anton Trishane Nonis, are with the team.

Bhutan, Malaysia, UAE, Kuwait, Hong Kong, and Nepal are playing the qualifiers. The tournament will be a precursor to the 2022 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup.

Eight teams were listed a few months ago, but China and Myanmar withdrew from the tournament owing to the pandemic.

On the official BC Facebook page, BC president Thinley Wangchuk Dorji said preparations for the tournament have no doubt been tough and challenging, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent Covid protocols in place.

“Nevertheless, training sessions and preparations for the tournament went on unabated with a lot of hard work, personal sacrifices, and determination put in by one and all,” Thinley Wangchuk Dorji said.