From Bhutan to a final in Dubai via the beach, Anju Gurung is living the dream

Bowler from tiny Himalayan nation shines among the stars to push Falcons to within one win of FairBreak Invitational title

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After a tournament full of firsts, the Falcons will play the Tornadoes in the inaugural FairBreak Invitational final on Sunday night at the Dubai International Stadium.

Falcons were the first to make it through, after their star players from cricket’s establishment paved the way for a 25-run win over Spirit.

Chamari Athapaththu, from Sri Lanka, made 63. England’s Danni Wyatt hit 83 in just 48 balls. Marizanne Kapp, of South Africa, applied the brakes with the ball on her first appearance of the competition.

This tournament, though, has been chiefly notable for the success of players from beyond cricket’s mainstream. And one from arguably its remotest destination made another telling contribution for the Falcons.

Bhutanese seam bowler Anju Gurung dismissed both the Spirit openers, which proved crucial in her side’s defence of 172.

It capped a landmark couple of days for the 28-year-old bowler. On the players’ off day 24 hours earlier, she had been to the beach for the first time in her life.

“In Bhutan we don’t have beaches – we have mountains,” Gurung said. “[Reaching the final] is a dream come true. In our team, everyone has been supporting each other. We have been backing each other, so it is good to see we are in the final.”

Joanne Broadbent, the Australian coach of the Falcons side, said Gurung has been a key component of Falcons’ advance to the final.

“Anju has been bowling so well for us all through the tournament, not just tonight,” Broadbent said.

“We are just really, really proud of her and the performances she has been getting.”

Falcons have the biggest contingent of UAE players in their squad of any in the six-team competition.

Theertha Satish has been ever-present in their starting XI. Samaira Dharnidharka and Vaishnave Mahesh – two 15-year-old bowlers – are also among their back-up players.

Their victory did spell the end of the involvement of Chaya Mughal, though. The UAE captain was unfortunate not to celebrate the wicket of Athapaththu or Wyatt – each of whom were dropped in the first over she sent down for Spirit.

Tornadoes’ tense win over Barmy Army in the second match of Saturday night, with two balls to spare, also consigned another UAE player, Kavisha Kumari, to a place in the third-place playoff.

Updated: May 15, 2022, 4:06 AM