By Richard Lockwood

Thailand have reached the final of the ACC Women’s Championship with an outstanding team performance against a Nepal side who had been unbeaten so far in the tournament as Thailand bowled them out for just 38 and won by seven wickets.

An overnight storm had blown off the covers but after a change of pitch and some hard work from the groundstaff the toss was only delayed by ten minutes and Thailand had no hesitation in choosing to field first.

The home side's greatest strengths are their bowling and fielding but all four previous matches played between Thailand and Nepal have been won by the side batting first. But Sornnarin Tippoch’s decision was soon to pay off.

Nattakan Chantham bowled the first over and started with two wides. She soon found her line and after Madhu Thapa had sucessfully defended one ball she edged the next and was brilliantly caught one handed by wicket-keeper Pundarika Prathanmitr. Nepal were 2 for 1.

Chanida Sutthiruang was given use of the new ball for the first time in the competition and she was bowling lovely away-swingers to the left-handed opener Sita Magar. Chanida started with a maiden and Nepal were 3 for 1 after 2 overs.

Thailand were very much on top at Prem as Chanida Sutthiruang took two wickets in her second over as Roshani Bobara was caught at first slip by Sornnarin Tippoch and Sarita Maga could only fend off a short ball into the wicket-keeper's gloves. Nepal were 6 for 3 after 4 overs.

Chanida took the third wicket of an outstanding opening spell as she bowled Nary Thapa who had seen Nepal home in their previous match after they had also lost early wickets. She had figures of three for one from her first three overs. Nepal were 14 for 4 after 6 overs.

Chanida was given a fourth over and she dismissed Nepal's opener Madhu Thapa caught down the leg-side as Pundarika Prathanmitr claimed her third catch. It had proved an inspired decision to give Chanida the new ball as she now had figures of 4 for 2 from her 4 overs. Nepal were 19 for 5 from eight overs.

Rubina Chhetri, Nepal's captain, and Neera Rajopadhyay were at the crease and they had plenty to do to post a defendable total. Nepal were unbeaten in the tournament but Thailand were keeping the pressure on with Nattaya Boochatham bowling steadily.

Chanida was now the leading wicket-taker in the competition with 14 but she was taken off with one over left. Sornnarin Tippoch brought herself on and before anyone can doubt her decision there was a run out as Wongpaka Liengprasert threw in quickly to the wicket-keeper and Neera Rajopadhyay was just short of the crease and Nepal are 21 for 6. Thailand's captain can do nothing wrong. It’s official.

Nepal's captain Rubina Chhetry was next out as she was bowled by Nattaya Boochatham perhaps deceived by a well pitched up slower ball. Nepal were 23 for 7 in the eleventh over and Thailand were in a very strong position.

Nepal's eighth-wicket pair were looking secure and the score has edged up to 24 for 7 after 13 overs at drinks. Thailand were keeping up high standards in the field with Naruemol Chaiwai diving full length on the square leg boundary and the pressure being applied is beginning to tell as there is another run out as Karuna Bhandari was indecisive as to whether to run a second or not and was stranded. Nattakan Chantham threw in from the boundary and Pundarika Prathanmitr did the rest. Nepal were now 30 for 8.

Nepal's tail-enders may have to try to hit their way out of trouble but as soon as Sonu Khadka tried this she could only sky the ball to Sornnarin Tippoch fielding a few yards away at short extra cover. Nepal were 34 for 9 as Rattana Sangsoma claimed her first wicket.

Sornnarin Tippoch bowled her final over of off-spin and she finished her spell in typical style as she bowled a maiden and her five overs cost only seven runs without a single wide.

Nepal's last pair were at the crease with Trishna Singh joined by tiny wicket-keeper Mamta Thapa. Chanida Sutthiruang was back on to bowl her final over and she ended the innings with her fifth wicket as she had Trishna Singh caught and bowled. Nepal were bowled out for 38 from exactly 20 overs. Chanida returned the exceptional figures of 5 overs, 3 maidens, 2 runs and 5 wickets. Thailand had been magnificent in the field and needed to score 39 for victory and a place in the final.

Thailand may have to work hard to make what looks to be a modest target as Nepal have a strong bowling attack. Left-arm seamer Sonu Khadka started with a maiden to Pundarika Prathanmitr and Rubina Chhetry bowled a good over to Nattakan Chantham. Nattakan was dropped at backward point but was out soon afterwards caught at cover by Karuna Bhandari. Thailand were 0 for 1 in the second over.

Sornnarin Tippoch has been outstanding so far in the tournament and Thailand's first run came from a leg-bye. Thailand's captain then hit a ball confidently to mid-wicket and against other teams a run would have been completed successfully but Sita Magar picked up the ball and threw in one motion and her direct hit left Sornnarin run out for nought. Thailand 1 for 2.
With the early dismissal of Thailand's captain Nepal were back in the match and Pundarika was joined by left-handed Nattaya Boochatham. It was a good chance for the rest of Thailand's batting order to show they can perform in a pressurized situation. Thailand 4 for 2 from 4 overs.

The home side’s score was inching forward against some hostile bowling from Nepal. Pundarika was keeping her attacking instincts under control and made three singles while Nattaya got off the mark with a push into the leg-side. Thailand were 10 for 2 after 6 overs.

Thailand's girls have been playing in the Bangkok Cricket League and so are growing accustomed to batting in tough conditions. It is this level of preparation that should hold them in good stead and Nattaya looked to have a very tight defence and knew she had time to wait for the bad balls. Two more nudges have accumulated two more runs and Pundarika was trying to play in the same way. Thailand 12 for 2 from 8 overs.

Thailand's first objective was to see off the opening bowlers who tend to be given their five overs in one spell at the start of the innings. Nattaya cut to backward point for another single and two wides followed against the right-hander as Sonu Khadka failed to adjust her line. Thailand 15 for 2 after 9 overs, Khadka 5 overs for 9 but no wickets.
Rubina Chhetry was now in her last over against the resolute Nattaya Boochatham but Nepal had another wicket as the Thailand number four fell lbw after pushing well forward. Thailand's third wicket was lost with the score on 15. Sirintra Saengsakaorat was promoted to number five and looked confident. She started with two singles and another run to Pundarika was converted to three by two overthrows. Six runs off the over and Thailand were 21 for 3 after 10. Chhetry finished with figures of 2 for 11.

Nary Thapa was into the attack to bowl left-arm over but at a slightly slower pace and Pundarika has time to hit her over mid on for two. Pundarika plays the first wild shot of her innings which brings a chorus of 'jai yen yen', take your time Pundarika. Thailand were 26 for 2 after 11 overs.

Nepal turned to spin in the 12th over and Sirintra survived a maiden from Sarita Maga and we now had spin on at both ends with Neera Rajopadhyay introduced to bowl her off-spin.
Pundarika looked like she would go for her shots against the spinners as she hit a two and a one but Sirintra was still content to play defensively. A nice contrast in batting styles and Thailand were 29 for 3 from 13 overs at drinks. Only 10 more runs to win.

Thailand's total moved to 31 with two byes and to 32 with a wide. Pundarika doesn't time a drive but a pull next ball brought a single. Sirintra was defending confidently and the score was 33 for 3. Six runs to win.

Karuna Bhandari was on and her first over brought three singles so Thailand were only three runs away from victory on 36 for 3.

A bye and an on-driven single to Sirintra brought the scores level and Punarika came down the wicket and drove confidently to mid on and took on the fielder. She was home safely and Thailand had won by seven wickets. They had successfully achieved their target of 39 from 16 overs and have gained a convincing victory without their captain scoring a run or taking a wicket, although she still took a catch and marshaled her team expertly in the field. It was been a marvellous team performance and sees Thailand through to the final of the ACC Women's Championship.

Chanida Sutthiruang was declared player of the match for her outstanding figures of five for two and it had proved an inspired decision for her to open the bowling. It is this attention to detail which suggests Thailand women’s cricket team has a very bright future and they also deserved credit for chasing a small target with great common sense. Pundarika checked her desire to attack and did not hit a single four in her innings of 18 from 46 balls and it was appropriate that she hit the winning runs.

ACC Women’s Championship 2013
SF1: Thailand v Nepal at Prem Oval
Thailand won the toss and elected to field
Nepal: 38 all out off 20 overs (C.Sutthiruang 5-2)
Thailand: 39 for 3 off 16 overs
Player of the Match: Chanida Sutthiruang (Thailand)

Tournament page

Filed January 31st, 2013