South Africa Emerging XI clinched a closely fought bilateral series against Thailand, winning the final two games against the visitors after going 2-1 down earlier.
The hosts held their nerve against the visitors to win a tight encounter by 23 runs. After winning the toss and electing to bat, captain Andrie Steyn (79 off 95 balls) and Nicole de Klerk (50 off 71 balls) put on an impressive 123 runs for the first wicket. Key to the partnership was the ability to negotiate Nattaya Boochatham (0-42 off 8 overs) easily early on. It was only a run-out that broke the partnership at the halfway mark of the innings.
From such a foundation, South Africa Emerging XI would have been pushing for 300, but the Thai spinners did well to reign the innings in. Thipatcha Putthawong (1-28 off 10 overs) was once again instrumental, bowling impeccable lines and lengths to slow the scoring rate, as Suleeporn Laomi (3-66 off 10 overs) snared wickets around her, albeit at an expensive RPO of 6.6. For the South Africa Emerging XI, Saarah Smith, promoted to first drop, scored a brisk 42 off 46 balls, and all-rounder Delmi Tucker contributed 32 off 33 balls to a total of 254/8 in 50 overs.
Thailand’s reply once again began at brisk pace with all of Boochatham (12 off 9 balls), Chantham (42 off 65 balls), and Khoncharoenkrai (16 off 26 balls), getting starts but failing to kick on as in previous matches. All three, and Wongpaka Liengprasert were back in the pavilion by the 22nd over, and with the score reading 79-4, Thailand were in trouble.
Naruemol Chaiwai and Sornnarin Tippoch (38 off 55 balls) put on 76 runs to keep Thailand in the game, but the visitors missed the calculated explosiveness of Chanida Sutthiruang as the run rate climated. Chaiwai battled valiantly until the last over, scoring an impressive 80 off 104 balls, but without support it was all too little too late.
The South Africa Emerging XI bowling was accurate all around, but it was the spinners Tucker (3-37 off 10 overs), Jones (2-41 off 10 overs), and Winster (1-43 off 10 overs) who did most of the damage.
With the series in the balance, one expected another nail-biter in the decider, but it was not to be. Thailand, once again without Sutthiruang, won the toss and elected to bat first, but their innings floundered from the start.
Boochatham fell LBW to Leah Jones off the first ball of the match, and although Natthakan Chantham (35 off 38 balls) threatened to dominate briefly, once she fell to youngster Erxleben in the 14th over, no other batter made more than 26 runs, South Africa Emerging XI’s bowlers once again sharing the wickets.
A score of 139 was never going to be enough, and so it proved as the hosts won comfortably by five wickets with more than 17 overs to spare. Saarah Smith (33 off 35 balls) and Delmi Tucket (34 off 28 balls not out) top-scored, Boochatham the pick of the bowlers with 2-32 off nine overs.
The series deservedly went to South Africa Emerging XI whose depth and experience shone through over five games. Thailand’s star players – Boochatham, Chantham, and Chaiwai – showed that they can compete consistently at the highest levels of the game, but coach Harshal Pathak will be pushing for more from the rest of the side in order for Thailand to win consistently at the World Cup Qualifier.
The three match T20 bilateral series between the two sides begins today.
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