Thailand and Zimbabwe women on even footing after two matches

Thailand’s tour to Zimbabwe has begun in competitive fashion, with the teams sharing the spoils in the first two matches. The Thais came out on top by 22 runs in the second match, after Zimbabwe won the opener comfortably.

On Friday, Thailand won the toss and elected to bat at the Takashinga Sports Club in Harare on a good batting with. Josephine Nkomo had surprise opener Suleeporn Laomi bowled for nought in the fourth over of the day.

There was to be no repeat of Thailand’s top order collapse from the first game, as Nattaya Boochatham and Wongpaka Liengprasert combined for a 92-run partnership in under 17 overs. Boochatham in particular was savage on anything pitched up, with one lofted on-drive off Nkomo early on particularly pleasing on the eye. Liengprasert took 19 balls to score a single, but thereafter was almost equally proficient in her scoring.

Thailand-Zimbabwe 2021
Nattaya Boochatham and Wongpaka Liengprasert batting against Zimbabwe (Photo: Zimbabwe Women’s Cricket)

Both Boochatham and Liengprasert fell before the 30th over. Chantham (42 off 55) and Sutthiruang (25 off 29) ticked the score over steadily against the accurate Marange (0/31 off 9) and Tshuma (0/43 off 9), showing a level of intent missing in the middle overs of the first game. At 173/3 in the 37th over, the stage was set for a big finish.

Enter the impressive Nkomo, whose second spell accounted for Chantham, Khoncharoenkrai, and Tippoch, slowing the momentum considerably. Captain Chaiwai shepherded her side past the 200 mark; Thailand ending on 229/9.

Zimbabwe got off to a flying start in response, with Chanida Sutthiruang coming in for punishment in the power play. As ever, it was Thailand’s legion of spinners who brought the game back under their control. Boochatham had the dangerous Ashley Ndiraya (31 off 26) caught behind, triggering two further wickets which left Zimbabwe at 44/3 in the 9th. This also brought together captain Mary-Anne Musonda and Josephine Nkomo, so clinical in the first game.

The pair took Zimbabwe out of the danger zone, combining for an 83-run partnership before Nkomo was clean-bowled by a top-spinner from Suleeporn Laomi, and Musonda skied one off Boochatham. Thereafter Thailand’s spinners combined to strangle the Zimbabwean lower order, as the hosts limped to 207/9 at the end of their fifty overs.

Boochatham followed up her fifty with a bat with a 5-wicket haul, and was ably supported by the veteran Tippoch (1/22 off 10 overs) and Kamchomphu (1/25 off 8 overs with three maidens).

Zimbabwe against Thailand
Captain Musonda and compatriot Nkomo after hitting the winning runs against Thailand (Photo: Zimbabwe Women’s Cricket)

In the opener, it was captain Musonda and Nkomo who combined for an impressive 105-run partnership at more than five runs an over to give Zimbabwe first blood in the series.

Earlier the Thais found themselves in all kinds of trouble at 35/3 in the 12th over, before captain Naruemol Chaiwai (67 off 120) and Chanida Sutthiruang (55 off 60) took them to a respectable, but ultimately sub-par total of 199/4.

It will be interesting to see how Thailand and Zimbabwe learn from they have seen from each other in the first two games. Thailand will have to negotiate the dangerous Josephine Nkomo both with the ball and bat, and the Zimbabweans will be looking to show more intent against Thailand’s spinners.

The third game of the 4-match one-day series begins today, ahead of a 3-match T20I series. Thailand and Zimbabwe are both vying for one of three places at the 50-Over Women’s World Cup in 2022, with a top five finish sealing a place in the next cycle of the now-expanded ICC Women’s Championship.

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