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Karuna leads Nepal’s road to quarters

Having a photo with India’s inspirational boxer Mary Kom might have boosted Karuna Bhandari as she picked up four wickets to send Nepal into the 17th Asain Games quarter-finals. In their second and final Group ‘D’ match at the Yeonhui Cricket Ground in Incheon on Monday, Nepal defeated Malaysia by 46 runs. After losing their opening game against Thailand by six wickets on Sunday, Nepal needed to defeat Malaysia to sail into the quarter-finals. The much-needed victory has now set Nepal a tough last eight draw against Bangaldesh.

Nepali women were undone by a disciplined bowling attack from Thailand on Sunday, the batswomen at least put some runs but still their innings read just one boundary in a total of 88-3 in 20 overs. Karuna Bhandari then picked up four wickets to bundle out Malaysia for just 42 in 14.5 overs.

Christina Baret (11) was the only Malaysian batswomen to make runs in double figures before she became the second victim of Karuna at the fifth wicket of Malaysia. Nur Aishah (nine) was Malaysia’s next best scorer and also fell to Karuna.

Karuna conceded just six runs in 3.5 overs. Sonu Khadka, skipper Rubina Chhetri and Sarita Magar also picked up one wicket each, while three wickets fell from run outs.

Earlier, opener Sobha Ale (six) fell early that followed by the dismissal of Nary Thapa (four) with scores reading 30-2 in 11.1 overs. Another opener Sita Rana Magar added 20 runs for the third wicket with Mamta Chaudhary before losing her wicket to Jannadiah Halim after making 18 off 41.

Mamta then shared an unbeaten 38-run stand with Sarita Magar to take total close to triple figures. Mamta remained unbeaten on 22 off 29 with Sarita making 12 not out from 15 balls hitting the only boundary of Nepali innings.

Malaysian innings also read one boundary. Nepal’s quarter-final clash against Bangladesh is set for September 24, the same day Thailand will meet Pakistan.

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