The last two places in the ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier which will be held in Netherlands in June 2018 have been decided at Terdthai Cricket Ground in Bangkok as UAE beat Malaysia by 34 runs and hosts Thailand beat Hong Kong by four wickets. The two teams have been by far the best in the tournament and they will meet in Monday’s final, while Hong Kong will face Nepal in the third place play-off.
Thailand will be making their third successive appearance in the World T20 Qualifier but UAE have qualified for the first time as they are taking part in their first ICC competition. Nisha Ali has been the star of this tournament for UAE, and the experienced all-rounder who has played for Delhi in Indian domestic cricket, has won three player of the match awards in a row. She said that she now dreams of playing in a World Cup for UAE and thinks this is a realistic possibility as her team mates are beginning to believe in themselves and quickly developing their skills.
At the start of the day Thailand, UAE and Hong Kong all had a chance of filling the top two places in the table. Thailand led the table on seven points with UAE in second place on six points and Hong Kong in third on five points. UAE needed to win to be certain of qualifying and Hong Kong had a mathematical chance of going ahead of Thailand on net run rate even if UAE won.
If UAE had lost to Malaysia, Hong Kong would have just needed to beat Thailand to join them in the final but all these scenarios came to nothing as Thailand and UAE were clearly dominant forces in this competition and they both gained convincing victories. There was an element of doubt in the day’s proceedings only in the early stages when UAE chose to bat against Malaysia and lost two wickets in the second over of their innings as Esha Oza and Prijanjali Jain were dismissed by Zayani Syamimi who has been one of the best bowlers of the tournament with eight wickets in four matches.
Nisha Ali came to the crease with the match and UAE’s hopes in the balance but once she was joined by the powerful left-hander Udeni Kuruppuarchchi UAE began to take control of the match. Nisha was all elegance and style as she played some lovely cover drives and Udeni hit strongly through the leg-side and the third-wicket partnership grew quickly. Udeni was out for 22 from 26 balls with the score on 69 for three and wickets began to fall and the run-rate slowed. Nisha Ali was still able to take the singles and she batted until the end of the innings in determined fashion to make an unbeaten 36 from 51 balls to take her side to a more than useful total of 83 for 6. Nur Arianna took 3 for 9 with her slow left-arm spin as only 16 runs came from the last five overs. Zayani Syamimi had bowled beautifully at the start to take 2 for 9 but the middle overs belonged to UAE and Nisha Ali in particular.
Malaysia have struggled with the bat in earlier matches and they lost the wickets of openers Emylia Eliani and Christina Baret before captain Winifred Duraisingham and Mas Elysa both reached double figures. Nisha Ali was in the action again as she bowled Mas Elysa and UAE captain Humaira Tasneem ran out her opposite number Duraisingham and Malaysia were behind the rate on 32 for 4 after 10 overs. UAE were on the toes in the field ready to put pressure on the Malaysians when they were looking for singles and there were no fewer than four run outs, three to Humaira Tsnneem, and Nisha Ali was hard to get away, bowling off-spin from round the wicket. The player of the match added figures of 2 for 6 to her priceless 36* and Malaysia were restricted to a total of 49 for 9 as UAE won by 34 runs to go to the top of the table with four wins from five matches. UAE had won their place in the final and qualified for the Women’s World T20 for the first time so it was now time to see whether Thailand or Hong Kong would join them. Thailand won the toss and elected to field first as they followed the same plan of attack that they had used in previous matches.
Hong Kong had to score as many runs as possible and then restrict Thailand to a score low enough for Hong Kong to go ahead of the hosts on net run-rate. All the calculations had been done overnight but it quickly became clear that they would soon become superfluous as Thailand took control of the match. Chanida Sutthiruang took a wicket with her second ball as Keenu Gill was lbw for 0 and although Mariko Hill was able to hit one boundary the runs completely dried up once she was run out for 10 by Sirintra Saengsakaorat. Sornnarin Tippoch led the way with figures of 2 for 5 and remarkably the three other Thailand spinners also matched their captain’s analysis. The four spinners had a combined return of 8 for 20 in 15.5 overs as Suleeporn Laomi ended the innings with one ball to go as Hong Kong were dismissed for 34 in 19.5 overs and surely Thailand were on the way to another crushing victory. All went smoothly as Thailand’s openers took the innings into double figures to ensure the hosts would finish with a better net run-rate than Hong Kong and the score had reached 21 in the fourth over before the first wicket fell as Nattakan Chantam skied a drive to be caught at mid-off.
Remarkably six wickets fell for the addition of just seven runs as Mariko Hill bowled at a sharp pace to claim 3 wickets for 17. Panic had set in and Hong Kong suddenly had hopes of a remarkable victory with seven more runs needed but Ratanaporn Padunglerd calmed all those nerves and scored the winning boundary as Thailand reached 35 for 6 in 11.4 overs to win by four wickets with 50 balls to spare.
Thailand finished top of the table on nine points and will face UAE in Monday’s final as well as reaching the ICC Women’s World T20 Qualifier for the third consecutive time. The hosts will be looking for better batting performances in future contests but their bowling and fielding had been simply exceptional during the tournament. A number of spectacular catches and brilliant run outs and backed up accurate bowling and any one of the four bowlers with 2 for 5 could have been named player of the match. The award went to Sornnarin Tippoch for bowling in the first half of the innings and setting an example to her team.
Hong Kong can hold their heads up high after fighting back well when all seemed lost and they will face Nepal in the third place play-off after the Nepal side defeated China by 50 runs at AIT. China had done well in the field for most of Nepal’s innings but Rubina Chhetry saw her side through to a total of 102 for 8 with a cameo of 18* from 14 balls in the final overs. Zhang Xiangxue took 3 for 19 but China couldn’t get close to the target once the consistent Zhou Caiyun was out for 10. Player of the match Sabnam Rai took 3 for 7 and Rubina Chhetry 3 for 11 as China were bowled out for 52 in 18.2 overs. Nepal finished ahead of Hong Kong in third place while Malaysia were fifth and China sixth.
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Images by: Abhilasha Agarwal – Winsports India