Now ranked 12th in the world
The Thailand women’s cricket team were rewarded for all their hard work and preparation as they surpassed all expectations when they took part in the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier in Ireland at the end of July.
It proved very much a trip of a lifetime for the Thai girls as they won three of their five matches in the competition, a record that was bettered only by Pakistan and Sri Lanka who were the two best sides and reached the tournament final.
Thailand’s Nattakan Chantham hits out against the Netherlands in an ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier held in Ireland last month.
Thailand had already shown great promise by beating Canada and running Scotland close in warm-up games and they gave a good account of themselves in their first group match against a Pakistan side who had spent a month playing against England and Ireland, while Thailand had been preparing at home.
Chiang Mai girl Nattakan Chantam, who has been playing cricket since she was nine years old, gave Thailand the perfect start as she took a wicket with her third ball and Pakistan had to work hard in making a total of 145 for 6 in their 20 overs. Thailand also did well with the bat as the openers laid a solid base and the lower-order went for their shots.
Pakistan beat Thailand by 69 runs but the girls quickly realised they had been beaten by a very strong side and they could now compete at the highest level. They faced Netherlands in their second match, a team who had played in the Women’s World Cup, but Thailand were confident in their own ability and did their country proud by gaining their first victory in a major ICC tournament by beating the Dutch by six wickets.
This surprised many onlookers from around the world who had not understood how far Thailand women’s cricket has come since their victory over China in the final of the ACC Women’s Championship in Chiang Mai in January. Thailand’s bowlers again did a good job in restricting Netherlands to a total of 84 for 5 and the openers, Pundarika Prathanmitr and Naruemol Chaiwai, laid the base for victory with a stand of 31.
But it was young 17-year-old Nattakan Chantam who proved the match-winner with the bat as she nervelessly went for her shots and hit 24 from 19 balls to take her side to a famous victory with only four wickets down.
Thailand now had the chance to reach the semi-finals if they could beat Zimbabwe in their next match but the second best side in Africa proved tough opponents and scored 23 in their last two overs to pass the 100 mark.
Thai captain Sornnarin Tippoch batted well to score 24 but she didn’t have enough support to chase a difficult target and Thailand were bowled out for 74 to lose by 29 runs, but their tournament was not over as they now took part in a shield competition alongside Zimbabwe, Canada and Japan.
Thailand faced Canada and had impressed so much that they were now favourites to win and they gave a professional performance as they scored 92 for 6 in 18 overs as Chanida Sutthiruang made 23 from 17 balls. Rain saw the match extended into a second day and Nattaya Boochatham took 2 for 11 as Canada could make only 79 for 8 and Thailand had won by 13 runs.
The Thai girls now faced Zimbabwe in the Shield final and they gave their best performance of the whole tournament as they comprehensively beat the African side by 25 runs (Duckworth/Lewis method) as the match was shortened by rain.
Sornnarin Tippoch, who along with Nattaya Boochatham has been given the chance to play league cricket in Sri Lanka, led from the front as she took the new ball and dismissed both openers with her off-spin. Zimbabwe were restricted to a total of 85 for 6 in 20 overs.
Thailand were 48 for no wicket in just seven overs when the rain finally brought an end to proceedings.
The team convincingly won the Shield competition and can now be ranked as high as 12th place in world cricket, and a record of three wins in five matches is an outstanding achievement. The country of Thailand can certainly be very proud of its women’s cricket team.