In the third match, Zimbabwean seamers Josephine Nkomo and Nomvelo Sibanda tore through Thailand’s top order to leave the visitors reeling at 14/5 off 8.4 overs. Boochatham, Liengprasert, Chantham, and Khoncharoenkrai back in the pavilion.
At this point the game appeared to be headed for an early finish, but captain Naruemol Chaiwai had other ideas. Finding a partner in the experienced Tippoch, the pair guided Thailand to 84/5 in the 33rd over, before the latter fell to Loryn Phiri. Steady as they were, Zimbabwe’s spinners had little purchase from a flat deck.
By the time Nkomo and Sibanda returned, Thailand were already pushing 150 and Chaiwai was in the midst of a calculated assault, picking ones and twos regularly, and unleashing the odd cut or pull to the boundary.
The Thai captain took a single off the final ball of the innings, reaching a superlative 100* off 130 balls.
‘A brilliant knock under significant pressure,’ Thailand’s Shan Kader told Emerging Cricket, and only the second international hundred by a Thai woman cricketer after Tippoch’s century against Singapore more than a decade ago.
Young pacer Phannita Maya bowled the left-handed Ashley Ndiraya with a beautiful in-swinging yorker. At 0/1 Thailand may have sensed an opening. Two close leg before wicket shouts notwithstanding, keeper Modester Mupachikwa (52 off 85) and former captain Chipo Mugeri-Tiripano (54 off 75) struck controlled half-centuries to take the hosts beyond the hundred mark and well within range of a comfortable victory.
Suleeporn Laomi (2/31 off 8) struck twice in quick succession to remove Mugeri-Tiripano, and the dangerous Nkomo, but with star batter and captain Mary-Anne Musonda (46 off 47) at the crease, Zimbabwe cruised to victory with five wickets and more than six overs in hand.
The final match of the one-day series saw Zimbabwe opt to bat first, with captain Musonda resting, and the in-form Chanida Sutthiruang returning to the Thai playing eleven. Ndiraya once again fell early, caught behind off a fine piece of glove work by Khoncharoenkrai to Tippoch.
Like in the third match, Mupachikwa and stand-in captain Mugeri-Tiripano set about rebuilding, but at the modest rate of three an over. Mupachikwa, Chatonzwa and Nkomo fell in a horror ten over spell for Zimbabwe in which they only managed 20 runs, the hosts sorely missed Musonda’s unparalleled ability to knock the ball around at a run-a-ball in the middle overs.
The experienced Precious Marangwa scored a blistering 66 off 76 balls with two huge sixes to take Zimbabwe to 212/8. Thailand’s quad of finger spinners kept things very tight returning collective figures 5/125 off 37 overs; Boochatham the pick with 3/27 off 9 overs.
Faced with a par target, Thailand reverted to their regular opening pair of Boochatham (34 off 36) and Natthakan Chantham (19 off 40), who successfully weathered the new-ball threat of Nkomo and Sibanda. Neither batter converted their starts, and when Chaiwai fell for a second ball duck to the accurate off-spin of Chatonzwa, nerves may have set in.
Wicket-keeper Khoncharoenkrai (33 off 71) and the increasingly reliable Wongpaka Liengprasert (32 off 46) weathered the setbacks, but both fell to Sibanda in quick succession leaving the Thais at 138/5 in the 36th over, and the game well and truly in the balance.
Enter Chanida Sutthiruang, who despite being limited to a couple of overs with the ball due to injury, has played an instrumental role with the bat. Finding able company in Tippoch (29 off 34 No*), Sutthiruang struck a seamless 52 not out off 49 balls with seven fours, to take the Thais to a comfortable five wicket win, and square the series.
For Zimbabwe, the spinners were once again steady without being especially penetrative, and with the new ball threat of Nkomo and Sibanda blunted, the hosts could not seem to get the break through they needed.
With the one-day segment of the tour concluding in a 2-2 draw, focus for both Thailand and Zimbabwe shifts to the three T20I matches. Results also count towards the ICC Women’s T20I Team Rankings.
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