Needing a victory to kickstart their Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier campaign, Pakistan overcame a determined Thailand side by 52 runs in a tense affair at the Takashinga Sports Club in Harare.
Days after spruiking a new digital fan engagement plan as part of a larger global growth strategy, the ICC TV livestream worked sporadically at best, cutting out for five plus overs at a time, robbing interested viewers of an intriguing contest, in which both teams had unfinished business dating back to last year’s T20 World Cup.
Javeria Khan won the toss and elected to bat, and Pakistan circumspect in negotiating Nattaya Boochatham’s accurate off-spin. A sedate 18-run opening stand soon broke, with Muneeba Ali caught off the bowling of Rosenan Kanoh, and Omaima Sohail becoming the first of Thipatcha Putthawong’s five victims.
The 17-year old left-arm orthodox spinner bowled a probing line and length for the vast majority of her nine overs, varying her pace, and flight ever so subtly, to finish with superlative figures of 5-18.
Pakistan struggled to negotiate Thailand’s spinners in general, preferring to wait for the lose ball that never came, and getting stuck on the crease in the process. Captain Javeria and Nida Dar combined for a tidy 38-run partnership, but once Dar, who scored a remarkable half-century against Bangladesh, fell to Suleeporn Laomi, and the captain holed out to Putthawong, a 200 plus total seemed unlikely.
Aliya Riaz scored a fluent 49 off 66 balls to take Pakistan well beyond the century mark, but once she was run-out at 7-135, Pakistan lost their last three wickets for ten runs.
it was a typically polished from all of Thailand’s spinners, suffocating Pakistan’s batters with a barrage of dot balls, amounting to ten maidens across the innings. Putthawong’s heroics aside, Sornnarin Tippoch also finished with 2-19 off ten overs.
Thailand’s chase never took off. Left-arm spinner Anam Amin accounted for last year’s T20 World Cup hero, Natthakhan Chantham in the first over, and when Wongpaka Liengprasert, promoted to first drop, also fell for a duck in fourth over, Thailand were reeling at 4-2.
Despite the rain closing in, Thailand found it difficult to accelerate against an equally accurate Pakistani spin bowling attack, and each time they tried to force the pace, a wicket would fall one way or another.
Thailand’s most fruitful period with the bat was a 22-run partnership between Captain Chaiwai and Vice-Captain Khoncharoenkrai, a direct hit from Fatima Sana at mid-off sending Chaiwai to the pavilion, and likely marking the key turning point in Thailand’s chase.
The Thais then lost their last six wickets for 47 runs, failing to reach the hundred mark, Nashra Sandhu (1-14 off 10 overs with five maidens) and Omaima Sohail (1-19 off 9 overs with three maidens) the pick of the bowlers.
Elsewhere Bangladesh solidified their hold on the top of the table with a crushing 270-run win over the USA.
Being put in to bat, the Bangladeshis scored at almost six an over for the entirety of their innings, centred around an unbeaten century from opener Sharmin Akhter (130 off 141 balls not out), and a belligerent 67 off 62 balls from Fargana Hoque. Moshka Chaudhry was the pick of the American bowlers with 2-64 in her allotted ten overs.
The USA dug deep in their chase, aiming to bat out as many overs as possible rather than attempt to chase the total in any serious manner. They managed 52 runs in 30.3 overs against a side that has bowled out Zimbabwe for less in a recent series, and troubled Pakistan too in the first game of the tournament.
Sindhu Sriharsha and Tara Norris were to only ones to reach double figures on a day to forget.
Group B continues on Thursday 25 November, with Thailand taking on Bangladesh and Zimbabwe facing the USA.
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