Zimbabwe, Thailand continue tussle for one upmanship

Zimbabwe and Thailand will play three T20Is before the regional qualifiers. © Zimbabwe Cricket/Twitter

In the first T20I of the series, Zimbabwe, a side that haven’t played a T20I match since May 2019, managed to sneak home against Thailand, a side that participated in the 2020 T20 World Cup by one wicket. In the second T20I of the series on Saturday (August 28) at the Takashinga Sports Club in Harare, Zimbabwe have the opportunity to win the series and head confidently into the T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier.

As the top run-scorers in the T20Is for Zimbabwe, Modester Mupachikwa and Chipo Mugeri-Tiripano are going to be the vital players for the home side. Captain Mary-Anne Musonda played an important role in three one-dayers, but her strike rate might be a cause of concern when it comes to the shortest format. Even if the top order fails, the likes of Josephine Nkomo and Precious Marange in the lower middle order have the capacity to stretch the batting depth of Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s bowling looked the mix of disciplined and wayward in the opening game of the series. They were quick to remove the Thailand openers but were clueless against Nannapat Koncharoenkai, who hit nine boundaries in her unbeaten half-century. Marange and Nkomo were economical in the first match, and they will surely need help from the other end. Zimbabwe would like Nomvelo Sibanda, who was able to stop the flow of runs in the one-day series, to contribute more with a ball in upcoming matches.

Thailand’s openers, Nattaya Boochatham and Natthakan Chantham were not able to give the team the headstart it required in the first T20I. Chantham was also guilty of eating up deliveries in the power play. This team is capable of putting a better batting display, as evident from their previous performances against the better-ranked sides. Wicket-keeper Koncharoenkai’s half-century, along with some late hitting by Sutthiruang led them to a respectable total in the first match. Sutthiruang has been impressive with the bat and could be key for Thailand to register a win.

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Even though Boochatham could not do much with a bat, her figures of 4-0-18-3, which included wickets at the start and at the death, which were crucial to push the match till the final over. Onnicha Kamchomphu’s tidy bowling in the middle overs denied Zimbabwe an easy win. Apart from these two, other Thailand bowlers were hit all over the park by the home side. Thailand were also at fault as they gave away nine extra runs in their innings compared to Zimbabwe, who bowled only one wide ball in the entire innings.

Both teams have room for improvement in the second T20I. Who will make the most of it is the question. Will it be Thailand, who came back twice in the one-day series to level the four-match series 2-2, or inspired Zimbabwe, who are one victory away from winning the series against a better-ranked side? We will see soon.

Squads

Zimbabwe: Mary-Anne Musonda (C), Modester Mupachikwa, Chiedza Dhururu, Ashley Ndiraya, Josephine Nkomo, Precious Marange, Christabel Chatonzwa, Tasmeen Granger, Esther Mbofana, Loreen Tshuma, Nomvelo Sibanda, Loryn Phiri, Nyasha Gwanzura, Audrey Mazvishaya, Chipo Mugeri-Tiripano, Mitchel Mavunga, Nomatter Mutasa-Ziyambi

Thailand: Naruemol Chaiwai (C), Nannapat Khoncharoenkrai, Nattaya Boochatham, Ratanaporn Padunglerd, Chanida Sutthiruang, Nattakan Chantham, Suleeporn Laomi, Sornnarin Tippoch, Rosenanee Kanoh, Wongpaka Liengprasert, Phannita Maya, Onnicha Kampchomphu, Thipatcha Putthawong, Aphisara Suwanchonrathi, Sunida Chaturongrattana