A scintillating knock from Chanida Sutthiruang followed by a characteristically probing spell by Nattaya Boochatham ensured that Thailand defeated Zimbabwe by 27 runs in the final T20I, and clinched the bilateral series 2-1.
Thailand won the toss and elected to bat first in Harare. Openers Chantham and Boochatham started in typically solid fashion, the latter the early aggressor with a couple of delightful flicks to the square leg boundary. Zimbabwe were missing Josephine Nkomo, and it was wily off-spinner Precious Marange (1-26 off 4) who accounted for Boochatham (19 off 17).
The wicket triggered a mini collapse, as Thailand lost Khoncharoenkrai, Chantham, Kampchomphu, and Liengprasert in the span of five overs; Loreen Tshuma (3-14 off 4) doing the bulk of the damage.
Thereafter it was all Thailand, as Sutthiruang joined Naruemol Chaiwai (22 off 24). Those who watched Thailand play New Zealand in a T20I World Cup warm up game will know that Sutthiruang has always had the ability to hit the ball cleanly to all parts of the ground. She has added consistency and an ability to control the tempo of her innings to her arsenal. Here she scored a breezy 46 off 28 balls laced with seven boundaries. She and Chaiwai put on 64 off 44 balls, as Thailand finished on a healthy 134/5.
Marange opened the batting, but she fell in the first over, run out to Chaiwai. Chipo Mugeri-Tiripano went on the offensive, using her feet against Thailand’s spinners and scoring 28 off 17 balls.
However, once she fell to the impressive Putthawong (1-21 off 4) in the sixth over, Thailand’s spinners were able to wrestle the initiative from the Zimbabweans who were missing Nkomo’s middle-order urgency, and Marange’s ability to hit big. Leg-spinner Suleeporn Laomi (0-15 off 4) was particularly hard to get away as she and Putthawong extracted dot ball after dot ball out of the experienced Mupachikwa (13 off 21), Musonda (23 off 32), and Dhururu (19 off 34).
By the time Musonda fell to the returning Boochatham (3-22 off 4), Zimbabwe still needed 51 runs off 25 balls with six wickets in hand, but hosts only managed another 23; their innings and series form petering out to an anti-climatic end.
Sutthiruang was the stand-out performer with the bat, scoring 214 runs with four not out scores at an average of 107. Boochatham was the star with the ball taking 19 wickets in seven matches, whilst also jumping to a career-best 11th in the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s T20I Rankings for all-rounders.
Zimbabwe will be wary of Thailand when the Asia’s top Associate women’s team returns for the World Cup Qualifiers in November. And they will come back with confidence a positive end to a very competitive tour.
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