A combined effort from the bowlers saw Thailand script a thrilling four-run win over Ireland in their second round match of the Women’s T20I Quadrangular series at Sportpark Het Schootsveld in Deventer on Friday (August 9). After an unbeaten 18-run cameo from Nannapat Koncharoenkai pushed Thailand to a total of 54 for 4 in a 10-over match, the bowlers, led by Nattaya Boochatham and Ratanaporn Padunglerd squeezed Ireland’s top order to keep the target out of their reach.

In what was a rain-reduced game, Ireland won the toss in overcast and wet conditions and chose to field. With conditions heavily favouring the bowlers, Thailand’s batters struggled to get a move on— the openers stuttering to 14 off three overs before Nattakan Chantam, the hero of the previous game, was dismissed for by Eimear Richardson for eight.

Naruemol Chaiwai (6) and Chanida Sutthiruang (2) didn’t last much longer as Thailand were reduced to 26 for 3 in 5.5 overs. With only 4.1 overs remaining they were desperate to get a move on. 

Koncharoenkai found an able ally in Boochatham and the pair stitched together a useful 28-run stand before the latter was run out off the final ball of the innings for a 19-ball 15. Koncharoenkai was the only batter to score at a strike rate in excess of 100 for Thailand. She collected an unconquered 15-ball 18, hitting one of only two boundaries in the innings, to take her team to 54 for 4.

Lara Martiz and Richardson were the two wicket-takers for Ireland with one wicket each. Orla Prendergast was the team’s most expensive bowler, conceding 18 runs in her two overs while also conceding both boundaries that were hit in Thailand’s innings.

In reply, Ireland’s chase never really got off the blocks. Gaby Lewis, the young right-hander, was dismissed in the second over by Boochatham for two. Ireland continued to lose wickets at regular intervals and were also unable to score freely.

Thailand bowlers kept a check on the run rate, stringing together as many as 17 dot balls (including three deliveries off which wickets were taken) in the first four overs. Ireland were hobbling at 10 for 2 and needed a further 45 runs off 36 balls.

The conditions didn’t suggest it was anywhere near possible, but Ireland refused to give up. Shauna Kavanagh attempted to dig in, but with the run rate continually climbing the batters needed to take a few chances.

Padunglerd further tightened the noose around Ireland’s neck when she removed Kavanagh (12) and Rebecca Stokell (2) in the space of three deliveries. Ireland needed 26 runs to win in the final two overs and were staring down the barrel.

That they got 21 of those runs was mostly down to the quick-fire contributions of Laura Delaney, Mary Waldron and Louise Little who scored a combined total of 19 runs— 13 of which came off the final over— between them. However, it was too little too late for Ireland as Boochatham held her nerve in the final over taking two big wickets to make sure the total stayed beyond Ireland’s grasp. Ireland were eventually restricted to 50 for 7 in their quota of 10 overs.

Boochatham was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3 for 18, while Padunglerb picked up fantastic figures of 2 for 6.

Thailand thus shot to the top of the table, maintaining their unbeaten run in the series while also giving the more fancied Ireland— one of the main contenders in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifiers— a real scare. They have now extended their winning run in T20Is to 16 matches.

Brief Scores: Thailand 54/4 in 10 overs (Nannapat Koncharoenkai 18*) beat Ireland 50/7 in 10 overs (Nattaya Boochatham 3-18,  Ratanaporn Padunglerd 2-6) by four runs.