This result confirmed the form guide from the ACC Women’s Championship in 2013 when Bhutan beat Iran in the play-off for fifth and sixth.
Iran won the toss and elected to bat after fielding first in all four matches so far. They lost a wicket in the first over as Roya Kaheni was promoted to open but fell lbw to Anju Gurung who is a talented left-arm over bowler and was causing problems.
Iran were showing why they finished sixth out of 11 countries in the last ACC Women’s Championship with a combination of careful defence and powerful hits off the back foot when the ball was dropped short.
Fabiba Heidari was growing more confident as she reached 10 but she played across the line to be bowled by Anju Gurung but opener Hanieh Golzari did well to bat through the first hour’s play.
Hanieh had started slowly as she pushed forward to the medium pace bowlers but she pulled two fours off Bhutan’s spinners when they dropped short. Iran lost their third wicket as Mahdiyeh Soltaninejad was caught behind off the left-arm spinner.
Iran reached their fifty with only three wickets down as Hanieh moved into the twenties. Mina Delfani was caught and bowled by Dechen Wangmo for 6 but Iran were still enjoying their morning’s work at Royals.
Opener Hanieh Golzari was still going strong after batting for two hours and Iran were giving their best batting display of the tournament as they reached 72 for 4 after 30 overs. Anju Gurung had now finished her spell as she recorded figures of 2 for 13.
Hamieh Golzari’s innings came to an end after facing 103 balls and hitting 3 boundaries as she was caught by Dechen Wangmo off Ugyen Dema for 31. It was then good to see that Iran’s lower order were not simply blocking but were trying to be positive with six wickets down.
Just when it seemed Iran would reach the hundred mark and bat out the 40 overs for the second time in the competition, their last three wickets fell in the space of four balls and they were dismissed for 97 in 39.3 overs. Sonam Choden took 3 for 16 and Dechen Wangmo 3 for 17.
Bhutan have not found run-scoring particularly easy in this tournament and Iran have runs on the board. Bhutan will depend on their captain Dechen Wangmo who is a quality player but Iran have been using a new tactic in this tournament by running out the non-striker when backing up too far and Avideh Gilani has used it again as Wangmo is run out without facing.
Iran’s opening bowlers were putting in plenty of effort but the second wicket also fell to a run out without the bowler delivering the ball. This is within the Laws but not according to the Spirit of Cricket and Iran have shown they are perfectly capable of getting wickets in more orthodox fashion as Sonam Peldon was bowled. Bhutan were in trouble at 6 for 3.
There were no more alarms for Bhutan as Yeshey Choden and Ugeyn Dema were building a good partnership from a rather perilous position.
The fifty came up for Bhutan just before the players took drinks after the first hour’s play after lunch. Bhutan needed only 48 more runs with 26 more overs to be bowled.
Bhutan’s fourth-wicket pair remained in control as they needed 35 more to win in 20 overs. Yeshey Choden was concentrating on defence as she had made 10 from 64 balls but left-hander Ugyen Dema had hit three fours in her 24.
Bhutan were now well on their way to victory as they needed only 15 more runs as Yeshey Choden showed she could play shots by pulling two fours.
Iran had been appealing for everything and at last the umpire’s finger went up when Yeshey Choden was lbw to Nasimeh Rahshetaei for 21 to bring to an end an excellent partnership of 78. 10 runs were needed from 10 overs.
Iran hadn’t given up and they took a fifth wicket as Ugyen Dema was run out after she had played a nice late cut and looked for a single while her new partner remained in her crease. She had batted sensibly for 33 from 96 balls. The Thailand team had just arrived for practice with Bhutan needing 7 more to win.
Panic was close to setting in even with so few runs now needed as another run out looked possible with every scrambled single.
There were two runs to win from the last four overs. The powerplay was taken and a leg bye brought the scores level before a wide provided the final run needed as Bhutan won by five wickets. Bhutan played the better cricket throughout the match but Iran had certainly tried everything and given their all. With this victory Bhutan finished in fifth place and Iran were sixth and so facing possible relegation from the new ACC Women’s Premier.