Zimbabwe vs Thailand

Global Game: A busy week for the Associates

By Emerging Cricket

Hit For Six!

It was another busy week for the Associates, as the Namibian men wrapped up their home series against Zimbabwe’s Emerging XI, Thailand’s women kicked off their African tour, Ghana raided Rwanda’s home for a men’s series victory, and Portugal’s men’s team hosted its first cricket match in two years.

In Windhoek, Namibia finished the T20 leg of the series with a slightly nervy chase of 130, wobbling early before the lower order got them past the modest Zimbabwean target. With both openers gone in Carl Mumba’s first over, skipper Gerhard Erasmus and young batter Michael van Lingen rebuilt briefly, then wickets in the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s pushed them to the edge at 6/66 after 12. But the allrounder pair of Karl Birkenstock (29 off 20) and Pikky Ya France (20* off 13) took the hosts over the line, seven wickets down in the 19th over. Earlier in the day, left-arm seamer Ruben Trumpelmann was the pick of the bowlers with 3/18 in his quota, though the developmental purpose of the series was on show as Erasmus rotated through 9 of his bowling options as they dismissed Zimbabwe for 129 in the 20th over.

The 50-over series started in much the same way as the T20s had gone, with a dominant display from the hosts as they posted 322 in their 50 overs. Led by a classy 97 (89) by Erasmus, laced with sweetly-timed boundaries all round the ground, Namibia’s top and middle order gave a promising account of themselves with 6 other batters passing 20. Ainsley Ndlovu’s crafty left-arm orthodox was the chief impediment as he took 4/43 in his 10 overs (all top order wickets), but he lacked enough support from the rest of the Zimbabwean attack. In response, the tourists’ top order again faltered as seamers Dewald Nell and Jan Frylinck made early inroads; Zimbabwean keeper Richmond Mutumbami fought back with 91 (103), but as was a recurring theme in the series, not enough of his colleagues stood up and the Zimbabweans were bundled out for 210 after 41.1 overs.

The second match saw an improved display with the bat from the Zimbabweans, but they were outclassed again by the Namibian juggernaut. The top order got starts, with batters 1 through 5 all passing 20, but Namibia’s bowlers kept nipping out wickets as partnerships began to look threatening; two self-inflicted runouts were symptomatic of their lack of application, and when Brian Chari was castled by Bernard Scholtz for 62 (64) with the score on 198/6 after 39 overs, the innings looked set to fizzle out. Enter Carl Mumba, who launched a blistering counterattack with 80 off 33 balls (including nine sixes) to lift the tourists’ run rate – but he was bowled by Sean Fouché trying to blast another one in the 47th over, and Fouché cleaned up the rest of the tail shortly after to bowl out the tourists for 304.

The hosts stamped their authority on the chase, with Michael van Lingen and Gerhard Erasmus both registering centuries in a 207-run stand for the third wicket. The Zimbabwean bowlers looked to have no answers as Namibia cruised past the target 4 wickets down in 48.1 overs.

Namibia clinched a series whitewash with a repeat of the first match - a dominant batting display carried them to 367/8, with Green (96 off 93), Loftie-Eaton (80 off 92), Smit (52 off 29) and Erasmus (91* off 47) all notching half-centuries. Victor Nyauchi was the lone Zimbabwean to achieve a measure of control, his 3/47 in 10 overs giving him the only economy rate under 6 among the seven bowlers used. In response, opener Brian Mudzinganyama made a bright start with 51 off 52, but the rest of the top order again disappointed, stumbling to 84/6 then 109/7 before Carl Mumba (50 off 26) and Tanaka Chivanga (34 off 31) slapped some lusty blows down the order to take the visitors past the 200 mark; ending on 210 again, the 157-run losing margin will give the Zimbabwean selectors much to think about as they attempt to build squad depth around their ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 campaign.

On the women’s side for Zimbabwe, the Lady Chevrons hosted Thailand for the first leg of their month-long African tour (serving as preparation for the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier, scheduled for November). The first match on Wednesday was a comfortable victory for the hosts, as Thailand shook off the rust in their first competitive outing since the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup early in 2020. Sent in to bat first, Thailand lost early wickets with seamer Josephine Nkomo (2/37 in 10) putting them in trouble at 35/3 in the 12th over. The middle order rebuilt, with keeper Nannapat Koncharoenkai (37 off 71) and skipper Naruemol Chaiwai (67* off 120) playing patient hands, though the run rate remained sluggish, and a zippy 55* (60) from Chanida Sutthiruang wasn’t enough to push the total past 200; at 199/4 in their 50 overs the Thais would feel they left some runs on the table. In response the hosts had few problems as they cruised to the target 3 wickets down and with 5 overs to spare; Nkomo backed up her bowling effort with a positive 57* (74) to complete an impressive all-round display.

Thailand bounced back in their second match on Friday, with an improved top-order display (highlighted by 54 off 58 to opener Nattaya Boochatham) leading them to 229/9 off their 50 – though after being 170/3 in 36 overs, they would be disappointed with 6/59 in the back end. Josephine Nkomo continued her good form for the hosts with 5/35 in her 10 overs.

The Zimbabwean chase was off to a good start with opener Ashley Ndiraya biffing 31 (26), but quick wickets pegged them back to 44/3. Nkomo’s allround exploits continued (38 off 71) as she linked up with skipper Mary-Anne Musonda (50 off 88) for an 83-run stand. But Thailand’s bowlers wheeled away with tight lines, and reaped the rewards as the hosts’ middle order fell away. Nattaya Boochatham performed an allround feat of her own as she grabbed 5/33 in 9 overs, while former captain Sornnarin Tippoch’s offspin was miserly as she strangled the run rate with 1/22 in 10 overs. Zimbabwe simply left too much for their lower order to do, and they fell 22 runs short at 207/9 from their 50.

Zimbabwe claimed the series win in the third match on Sunday, with a dominant bowling display followed by a clinical chase. Opting to field at the toss, Zimbabwe’s opening bowlers Nomvelo Sibanda (2/48 off 10) and Josephine Nkomo (3/42 off 10) wrecked the the Thai top order to leave them reeling at 14/5 in the 9th over. It fell to the past and present of Thai leadership to rebuild, with ex-captain Sornnarin Tippoch joined by her successor Naruemol Chaiwai. The pair did stabilise Thailand’s innings, but got thoroughly bogged down in the middle overs, with Tippoch’s 27 coming off an especially glacial 81 deliveries. Offspinner Precious Marange rolled through her overs with miserly precision, going for 0/26 off her 10. When Tippoch was dismissed in the 33rd over, with the score on just 82, it fell to Chaiwai to boost the run rate, and she delivered - after crawling to 29 from 73, her next 71 runs came off 57 deliveries as she dragged her side to 189/7 and claimed Thailand’s first century of the tour on the way.

Zimbabwe were not to be denied though, with keeper Modester Mupachikwa (52 off 85) and Chipo Mugeri (54 off 75) carrying the chase, even as the spin duo of Nattaya Boochatham (1/29 off 10) and Suleeporn Laomi (2/31 off 8) toiled hard to keep the run rate down. Zimbabwean skipper Marie-Anne Musonda (47 off 46) ensured there would be no mistakes though, and they reached victory in 43.3 overs with 5 wickets in hand.

Elsewhere in Africa, and the Ghanaian men pulled off a heist in a see-sawing 3-2 series at Rwanda’s Gahanga Stadium, denying the hosts victory in their first-ever T20I series.

The first day’s play on Thursday was a cracker, with both sides trading tense victories. The first match, Rwanda’s debut in men’s T20Is, saw the home side get over the line in a last-gasp chase with 1 wicket and 2 balls to spare. Ghana posted a challenging 164/5 in their allotment, with opener Amoluk Sehmbi’s 58 (40) doing most of the heavy lifting. In response, Rwanda were off to a speedy start thanks to Eric Dusingizimana’s 34 (22), then a breakneck half-century from Martin Akayezu (51 off 19) got them close. But when he was run out at the end of the 19th, it fell to bowlers Kevin Irakoze and Yvan Mitari to scramble over the line. The second match was Ghana’s, with a team bowling effort (four bowlers took 2 wickets each) restricting the hosts to 139/8. Sehmbi was again in form in the chase, biffing 45 (19) before being trapped LBW by Clinton Rubagumya. Offspinner Kevin Irakoze then tore through the middle order with 4/21, but Devender Singh’s cool-headed 15* (12) got the visitors home.

The Friday morning match was a convincing victory to the home side, with Rwanda posting 136/8 thanks to Bosco Tuyizere’s steady 40 (45). They surged in the field to dismiss Ghana for just 79, with seamer Zappy Bimenyimana scalping 3/16 and three runouts adding to the chaos. The afternoon game saw Ghana level the series again through the slightly unusual circumstances of a concession from Rwanda. Led by Rexford Bakum’s 63 (41), Ghana reached 166/6 in their 20 overs, but when the rain came 5 overs into Rwanda’s chase, the day’s remaining play was washed out. Sitting on 30/1, the hosts notified officials that they had conceded the match, and the series went to a decider on Saturday.

Ghana claimed the entertaining series with a comfortable 7-wicket win, after Rwanda posted a middling 147/8 thanks largely to Eric Niyomugabo’s 51 (42) and Zappy Bimenyimana thumping 25 (10) at the death. Amoluk Sehmbi was again irresistible as he spanked 80* (57), guiding the tourists home despite a game effort from Rwandan seamer Clinton Rubagumya (2/9 in 3.1 overs).

Over in Europe, and Portugal’s men were dominant in their home tri-series, winning all four matches in a double round-robin with Malta and Gibraltar. Malta claimed two matches and Gibraltar went winless. It was a pleasing return to the field after a two-year hiatus for the Portuguese, with opening bat Azhar Andari leading the way at Gucherre Cricket Ground in Albergaria. He struck 276 runs in 179 deliveries across Portugal’s four wins, including their first century in men’s T20Is against Gibraltar. It was with the ball that Portugal truly excelled though, with the top four wicket-takers of the series all from the hosts; Sirajullah Khadim led the way with nine wickets for 76 runs in his 16 overs.

Global Game is a collaboration between the ICC and Emerging Cricket.

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