A shock result which heralded Thailand’s arrival as a serious force in women’s cricket, the 2018 Asia Cup victory over Sri Lanka was their first Full Member scalp. And while Wongpaka Liengprasert grabbed the headlines (and Player of the Match award) for her 5/12 and cool-headed 13* to complete the chase, EC pick Nannapat Koncharoenkai also had a strong game behind the stumps, effecting 5 dismissals (3 stumpings and 2 run-outs). Fielding discipline is at the heart of Thailand’s approach to the game, and Koncharoenkai’s contribution to their historic victory highlights her value to the side as they continues to make strides in international cricket.
Even without the history, this match would have been a classic. Needing to win big in order to hold onto any slim hope of qualifying for the final in Kuala Lumpur, Sri Lanka were inserted to bat by Sornnarin Tippoch. It was a characteristically bold move which saw the Lankans bowled out for 104 after Liengprasert derailed their solid start by putting a wrecking ball through the middle order; her 5/12 was Thailand’s first five-wicket haul in T20Is. But for a team whose batting was (and remains) their weaker suit, the target was still a tough ask. Thailand had not passed 70 in their previous 4 matches, and regularly crumbled under pressure.
Naruemol Chaiwai led the chase with 43, as Thailand’s top order made steady progress and kept ahead of the run rate. At the halfway stage, the Thais were 57/1 and looked to be cruising. But tidy Sri Lankan bowling saw them concede just 20 off the next 5 overs, and Chaiwai and Boochatham were getting bogged down. Two wickets fell in the 16th over, then two more in the 18th and 19th. Both set batters were gone, and Thailand were wobbling at 5/99 going into the final over. When Tippoch was stumped on the first ball, the runs required exceeded balls remaining for the first time in the chase, and the nerves were showing. But the day belonged to Liengprasert, and she held her nerve. Scrambling between the wickets with Suleeporn Laomi, she sealed the win off the last ball of the match with a desperate single and Thailand had created history. Speaking to the ICC after the match, Captain Tippoch described it as the best game she’d been involved in, and expressed Thailand’s ambition to appear at a T20 World Cup. While they missed out at the 2018 qualifiers, an improved showing in 2019 saw them through to the big stage where the dream came true and Thai cricketers competed in their very first global event.