Star Thailand opening batter Natthakan Chantham has been selected to play in the 2020 Women’s T20 Challenge League, also referred to as the Women’s Indian Premier League (IPL), to be held in the UAE next month.
Natthakan will join the Trailblazers and have the opportunity to play alongside captain and Indian opener Smriti Mandhana, veteran fast bowler Jhulan Ghoswami, English spinner Sophie Ecclestone, and West Indian star Deandra Dottin.
Chantham will be the first Associate cricketer to play in the nascent W-IPL and the first Thai cricketer to play professional T20 franchise cricket of any kind.
Chantham made her debut for Thailand’s Under 19 team at the age of twelve. She began her career as an all-rounder, but quickly developed to become one of Thailand’s most consistent batters.
Chantham first caught the eye just before the World Cup when she scored 82* off 71 balls against India ‘A’ in Patna. However, it was her eye-catching knock of 56 from 50 balls against Pakistan that cemented her as an up-and-comer on the global stage.
Speaking to Emerging Cricket on Sunday, Chantham could hardly hide her emotions. ‘I am still quite shocked and excited to be selected for such a high-profile tournament. We haven’t had a chance to play any competitive cricket since the World Cup so I am really excited for this opportunity.’
However, Chantham is also focused on the task ahead. ‘Hopefully I can put in a solid performance if and when the opportunity is handed to me by the team and help the team with my abilities as much as I can.’
‘I am really excited to be playing and training alongside the best players in the world.’
Shan Kader, Development Manager, Cricket Association of Thailand (CAT) told Emerging Cricket ‘The Cricket Association of Thailand is very proud of Natthakan Chantham for her selection in the Women’s Indian Premier League (IPL). It is another special day for cricket in Thailand. Natthakan thoroughly deserves the recognition for her hard work and perseverance. Hopefully, she will be the first of many to be handed such an opportunity.’
The All-India Women’s Committee selected the squads, and credit must also go to them for recognising the importance of giving a talented Associate cricketer game time.
Kader also weighed in on this issue. ‘The BCCI has always been very supportive of the Cricket Association of Thailand and we are honoured that they have recognised Natthakan’s talent and given her this opportunity.’
Natthakan leaves for the Emirates on 21 October and the Women’s T20 Challenge begins on the 4 November 2020.
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^updated 12/10/20 to correct month of departure from November to October