Thailand beat Bangladesh as Associates prove mettle

Thailand claimed a historic win over Bangladesh at the Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier beating their fancied Full-Member opponents by 16 runs on Duckworth Lewis calculations.

Across town, the USA nearly pulled off a shock victory against Zimbabwe, the hosts ultimately scrambling home by one wicket in a final-hour battle of nerves.

Both performances reaffirm the urgent need for Associate women’s teams to be given more frequent, structured opportunities to compete against higher-ranked Full Members.

Thailand won the toss at the Harare Sports Club and elected to field first. Boochatham ran through the defences of the in-form Sharmin Akhter in the second over, and Chanida Sutthiruang, slowly returning to peak bowling form, had the Nigar Sultana caught in the sixth, the Bangladeshi captain labouring for a single run off eighteen balls.

A fluent 84-run partnership in 23 overs between Murshida Khatun (46) and Fargana Hoque (51) steadied the innings, but both fell in quick succession. Lata Mondal struck an enterprising 29 off 34 balls with a couple of eye-catching sweep shots, but remarkably, Bangladesh only managed 52 runs in the last 14 overs of their innings.

Thailand have been miserly in each of their three death-over bowling spells, their spinners adept at changing pace, and executing the yorker. Nattaya Boochatham exemplified this quality in the last over claiming three wickets, including two stumpings to finish with 5/26 in seven overs.

After capitulating for under a hundred against Pakistan, chasing 177 against an experienced Bangladeshi attack seemed improbable. However, an excellent 97-run opening partnership in 28 overs between Natthakan Chantham and her the newly promoted opening partner Sornnarin Tippoch put Thailand in the drivers seat.

Tippoch and Chantham were circumspect and at times lucky in the first hour of the chase, but found a way to negotiate the probing Jahanara Alam, Salma Khatun, and Nahida Akhter.

The moment the game is called (Video: ICC)

Anything full and wide was punished through the covers, but in the main, it was a case of placing the ball around the square and challenging the fielders with quick singles.

Tippoch (69) started slowly, but gradually unveiled her repertoire of strokes, including a couple of attractive off-drives and sweeps, playing with much more fluency after reaching her half-century.

When the openers fell, Captain Naruemol Chaiwai and vice-captain Nannapat Khoncharoenkrai continued in precisely the same vein, at times taking very risky singles and essentially hoping that the fielders would not execute direct hits.

With the run rate hovering at just above three an over and pertinent questions about how Thailand might up the tempo if it climbed above four, Bangladesh were never fully out of it.

But with rain forecast and dark clouds gathering all afternoon, Thailand did enough to ensure that they were ahead were well ahead – 16 runs to be precise – on the Duckworth-Lewis calculations when the heavens finally gave way and the light faded.

Elsewhere the fixture between the USA and Zimbabwe at the Takashinga Sports Club was characterised by dramatic batting collapses in both innings.

Put into bat, the USA negotiated the first hour with relative ease, assisted by the fact that Josephine Nkomo did not bowl. Gargi Bhole (17), Mahika Kandanala (11), and Sindhu Sriharsha (22) all got to double figures as the Americans reached 77/3 in 22 overs.

Loreen Tshuma (3/19) triggered a collapse, accounting for Bhaskar and the well-set Sriharsha in quick succession, before returning to claim the scalp of the dangerous Tara Norris.

Aside from Norris’ 18-run cameo, the middle and lower order batters fell to single-digit scores, as the USA succumbed to 131 all out, losing their last seven wickets for 54 runs.

USA Cricket
USA celebrate a Zimbabwean wicket (photo: ICC)

In response, openers Modester Mupachikwa (22) and Sharne Mayers (32) put on 57 in nine overs, Mayers going at well over a run-a-ball. The pair played the impressive Norris (2/22) cautiously, whilst targeting her bowling partners Farooq and Chaudhary (4/46) early on.

From there the cracks started to appear. First Norris had Mupachikwa caught behind, then Kodali had the belligerent Mayers caught in the outfield. Captain Mary-Anne Musonda fell for a duck, her uncharacteristic sixteen-ball vigil slowing the tempo of the innings and giving the USA bowlers a semblance of rhythm.

The wheels truly came off in the 18th and 19th overs, when Chaudhary claimed the scalps of Dhururu, Tshuma, and Gwanzura, and Rao took the prized wicket of Nkomo (24) to leave Zimbabwe reeling at 87/7.

From here the run rate slowed considerably as Zimbabwe’s remaining batters chose to grind their way to the target. Norris’ two remaining overs were key, and although she had Marange (18) LBW, the tail-enders stuck on.

Number eleven Francisca Chipare broke the shackles with two crucial boundaries off Chaudhary in the 32nd over, before taking Zimbabwe home with another boundary in the 34th.

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