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Pakistan still too strong for Thailand

Pakistan Women v Thailand Women at Incheon, South Korea Wednesday, 24 September 2014
Pakistan still too strong for Thailand

Thailand’s women cricketers had looked the part in their opening two matches in the Asian Games but once again found the step up in class too much as lost to Pakistan in the quarter-finals by 51 runs. It was their fourth defeat in as many matches against the same opposition and once again showed the difference in quality between playing in ACC competitions where Thailand have proved supreme and then facing a full member country which has been playing regularly in ICC competitions. Thailand women’s team are an improving side but so are Pakistan and the gulf in class remains significant.

With China and Sri Lanka already through to the quarter-finals, Thailand faced Pakistan in the third quarter-final of the women’s cricket competition in the Asian Games being held in Incheon, South Korea. The start was delayed by 95 minutes and the match was reduced to 14 overs aside when play finally got underway at 11.05 am.

Thailand were in the field after winning the toss with Nattakan Chantam taking the new ball. Thailand's fielding has been outstanding so it was appropriate that the first wicket fell to a run out as Naruemol Chaiwai made a direct hit. Pakistan were 3 for 1 in the first over.

Pakistan are defending champions having beaten Bangladesh in the Asian Games Final in 2010 and they have beaten Thailand in the three twenty-over contests they have played previously. Thailand’s standards are improving and the team has three trophies to its name with two ACC titles and the plate competition in the ICC World T20 Qualifier.

Thailand were still doing well in the field and Sornnarin Tippoch was soon back in the action after missing two matches as she took the catch to dismiss Marina Iqbal as Pakistan lost their second wicket with the score on 11. Wongpaka Liengprasert was the bowler and she has been one of Thailand's most improved players in this competition.

Thailand couldn't have hoped for a better start as Wongpaka bowled her overs in one spell and finished with figures of 3-0-13-1. Pakistan had not managed a boundary so far in the innings as Thailand were using an all seam attack and had restricted the opposition to 37 for 2 after 7 overs at the halfway point of their innings.

Pakistan lost their third wicket in the eighth over as Bismah Maroof was run out for 16 as Thailand's fielding continued to shine. Time for spin and this could be the decisive stage of the match. Rattana Sangsoma was bowling her off-spin and the Pakistan 50 came up with the first four of the innings. Pakistan had been playing Australia in recent weeks while Thailand's preparation had come in Andhra Pradesh in India. Thailand had already played two matches in Incheon while this was Pakistan's first match. Only two runs came from the 10th over so Pakistan were 55 for 3 with 4 overs left in their innings.

Pakistan's number five Quanita Jalil has a reputation as a big hitter and she hit a pair of boundaries off Rattana Sangsoma as 13 runs came from the 11th over. Pakistan's run-rate was still at 6 an over but Thailand needed to finish the innings strongly.

Pakistan had just been able to break free by scoring 41 in the space of five overs and may just reach the 100-mark in this 14-over contest. 18-year-old Nattakan Chantam was on to bowl her third and final over and even though she was hit to the boundary she held her nerve and bowled the dangerous Jalil as Pakistan were 87 for 4 with one over left.

Nattaya Boochatham took the responsibility of bowling the last over and she was giving nothing away so Pakistan took a chance with their running and suffered a third run out. Nain Abidi had made 40 from 40 balls and without her innings Pakistan would have been in real trouble. They made 97 for 5 in their 14 overs with 42 runs coming in the last four overs and Thailand could be well pleased with their performance in the field.

Thailand needed 98 to win in 14 overs at a rate of exactly 7 an over and this was the first time that they had had even a slim chance of beating Pakistan which would have been an outstanding achievement. Left-arm spinner Nadia Yousuf bowled the first over and six runs was a good result for Thailand.

Thailand captain Nattaya Boochatham was yet to be dismissed in the tournament but she would not be able to play herself in quite as thoroughly as she would wish but her partner Nattakan Chantam was more suited to going for her shots. It was interesting that Pakistan were opening with two spinners but Chantam was caught behind from the last ball of the second over.

Sornnarin Tippoch, such a key figure for Thailand in the past, came in at number three in her first match in the competition, and she hadn't got much time to find her feet. A good over from medium pacer Asmavia Iqbal with only two runs conceded but singles were coming off the spin of Sana Mir. 81 runs needed from 10 overs.

Sornnarin has not been fully fit and this went against her as she tried to push a single and failed to make her ground as she was run out for 2 to leave Thailand on 17 for 2. Pundarika Prathanmitr came to the wicket with the ability to hit the ball and Thailand will need to find the boundary soon.

Thailand were 21 for 2 from 6 overs and finding runs hard to come by but this was an important step up in the strength of opposition for the Thailand girls. They need to play more against strong women's sides. Time at the crease against good bowling is crucial for the development of the team’s batting. Nattaya was looking exceptional again as Thailand reached 27 for 2 at the halfway point. 71 needed from 7 overs.

Thailand's hopes were fading fast as Nattaya was out for the first time in three matches as she was bowled for 17 but it gave Chanida Sutthiruang a chance to shine as she had done well against weaker opposition. The score was 33 for 3 after 9 overs so 65 more required off 5.

Thailand's highest score in three matches against Pakistan was 76 for 8 from 20 overs which they achieved in Ireland last year and a fourth wicket fell as Chanida was caught at mid on. Sirintra Saengsakorat was not at the crease for some valuable experience.

Thailand just haven't been able to hit any boundaries nor been able to rotate the strike enough against spin or pace so they still needed 11 to reach fifty with only two overs left.

Pundarika Prathanmitr attempted a big shot only to be caught at point for 9 and Thailand were 44 for 5 with one over left.

Sirintra was then lbw for six as Thailand lost their sixth wicket and Rattana Sangsoma soon followed for a duck as she was beaten for pace. Wongpaka Liengprasert scored a run from the last ball of the innings as Thailand reached 46 for 7 in their 14 overs. Pakistan have won by 51 runs and will face China in the semi-finals.

Thailand had acquitted themselves well in the field and were competing on even terms with Pakistan for the first 10 overs of the match. The difference in quality began to tell as runs flowed at the end of the innings and Thailand's batting struggled throughout with the exception of Nattaya Boochatham who almost managed to bat through the innings in all of Thailand's matches. Making 17 here she took her tournament average above 50.

Thailand need to play more matches against this standard of opposition if they are to progress further in the future but the girls can again be proud of their efforts here in Incheon.

Pakistan went on to retain their Asian Games Women's Cricket title as they bowled out China for just 37 in the semi-finals and won by nine wickets, then just overcome Bangladesh in the final in a match decided by the Duckworth Lewis method. Pakistan took gold, Bangladesh silver and Sri Lanka bronze.

Pakistan Women 97 for 5 (14 overs)
Nain Abidi 40

Thailand Women 46 for 7 (14 overs)
Nattaya Boochatham 17; Asmavia Iqbal 2 for 6

Pakistan won by 51 runs