Zimbabwe, Thailand duel as prequel for regional qualifiers
When Thailand left for Zimbabwe to play four one-dayers and three T20Is, they had not played a 50-over match against another country for more than a decade. Yet, they managed to draw the series against the hosts 2-2. The games were a lot more competitive than what the scorecard might suggest.
As the series moves towards the shorter format, both the teams would want to make the most out of the series before going into their respective regional T20 World Cup qualifier tournaments. Additional opportunity for the tourists, with Zimbabwe serving as hosts for the final qualifier tournament later this year.
Thailand had their moments throughout the one-dayers. The biggest takeaway, though, would be the performance of their new skipper Naruemol Chaiwai. She led from the front, scoring 195 runs in four innings, including an unbeaten century when the team was in a crisis. Thailand would want her to continue the good form going into the T20Is.
Wongpaka Liengprasert, Chanida Sutthiruang, Sornnarin Tippoch and Nattaya Boochatham showed glimpses of promise throughout the series, but the skipper would want them to be a bit more consistent. Though the form of Natthakan Chantham is a bit of concern, the other batters have made up for it so far.
Boochatham has been the star with the ball as other bowlers have played supporting roles whenever required. They have contributed in almost all the matches, ensuring that the hosts did not run away with the game. Chaiwai would want the bowlers to continue their good performance in the three T20Is as well.
For Zimbabwe, Chipo Mugeri-Tiripano and Mary-Anne Musonda have carried the burden of the batting in the one-dayers along with Precious Marange, Josephine Nkomo and Modester Mupachikwa. However, the form of the other opener Ashley Ndiraya has been a worry. Musonda would want Ndiraya to get amongst some runs in the T20Is, for the hosts to have a good series.
Zimbabwe have been extremely good with the ball, barring a couple of instances where they let Thailand rebuild. Their pacers, in particular Nkomo and Nomvelo Sibanda, have been impressive so far.
The three-match T20I series against Zimbabwe would mark their return to international cricket since the 2019 T20 World Cup qualifier. They were supposed to play a T20I series against Pakistan, but the series got cut short midway. Meanwhile, Thailand would be playing their first international series since the 2020 T20 World Cup.
Will Thailand continue to rise and dominate in the T20Is or will Zimbabwe come back strongly and outdo the tourists in the shorter format?
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
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