By Richard Lockwood

Thailand overcame a spirited Hong Kong side by six wickets at Gymkhana as they gained their third victory in the ACC Women’s Premier but it was by no means an easy win as Hong Kong recovered from a precarious 56 for 6 to post a total of 122 and then dismissed both openers with only nine runs on the board. The 40-over format allowed this match to be a proper test and players of both sides will have gained a great deal in experience.

Thailand and Hong Kong had both won two matches in the competition so far, so the winner of today's contest would be in a strong position. Both teams reached the semi-finals of last year’s ACC Women's Championship with Thailand the eventual winners and Hong Kong finishing fourth. The two teams did not play each other so Hong Kong were going to enjoy their chance to take on the highly rated Thailand side.

Thailand won the toss and elected to field. The team news was important with the home side weakened by the absence of Nattakan Chantam who was aitting an exam, although this gave another chance to leg-spinner Suleeporn Laomi. Hong Kong were unchanged from the side who defeated Iran by 159 runs with opener Yip Sze Wan looking to build on her flawless innings of 82.

There was a confident start for Hong Kong as both openers Yip Sze Wan and To Yee Shan hit an early boundary although Chanida Sutthiruang was getting some movement and beating the bat.

Hong Kong's openers had already shared two good partnerships in the competition but their stand against Thailand ended on 23 when To Yee Shan was bowled by Chanida for 8. Yip Sze Wan was the leading run-scorer in the competition with scores of 39* and 82 already under her belt, but she was then bowled by Chanida for 14 as Hong Kong lost their second wicket on 29.

Chanida was the leading wicket-taker in the ACC Women's Championship in 2013 and she was causing problems here with late swing and she took her third wicket of the morning as Mariko Hill was bowled for 0. Hong Kong had started well but were now 29 for 3 and Chanida's figures were 6-2-11-3.

Sornnarin Tippoch was bowling her off-spin and Nattaya Boochatham took over from Chanida who still had two overs to bowl. Clare Crewdson has hit a nice drive through the covers and was showing she could play as well as coach.

Ratanaporn Padunglerd took a wicket in her first over as Crewdson was also bowled as Hong Kong lost their fourth wicket with the score on 43. Thailand were now very much on top as Shanzeen Shahzad tried to hit the ball over the top but only managed to reach mid-on as Sornnarin claimed the fifth wicket.

Chan Sau Ha looked as if she could launch a useful counter-attack as she hit a pair of boundaries but she was run out as Hong Kong's tactic of hitting the ball at the fielder and running was bound to come unstuck eventually. Hong Kong were 60 for 6 after 20 overs.

A quiet passage of play followed as Hong Kong were now content to try to bat out the 40 overs. Captain Ishitaa Gidwani was joined by Leslie Dela Pena and they made steady progress in their seventh-wicket partnership.

Thailand might start to miss the all-round skills of Nattakan Chantam as Sornnarin Tippoch had finished her eight overs and Wongpaka Liengprasert was introduced as the fifth bowler. Two wides and a boundary were followed by another run out as a direct hit from Nattaya Boochatham brought an end to Dela Pena's innings.

Gidwani had been going for her shots and it may have been time for Thailand to bring back the opening bowlers but Wongpaka struck as Gidwani was bowled for 21 and Hong Kong were 91 for 8.

Chanida was brought back but Sornnarin dropped a difficult chance at mid-off to give Chan Ka Ying a life and the left-hander hit a good boundary as Hong Kong's 100 came up in the 31st over.

The ninth-wicket pair were fighting hard and the total was rising steadily, Ho Hung Ying and Chan Ya Ying were batting very sensibly and Thailand were struggling to finish off the innings. Ratanaporn and Chanida finished their spells and Nattaya was in her last over.

Nattaya finally made the breakthrough as she claimed the ninth wicket by bowling Ho Hung Ying for 10 to end a fine partnership of 31 with Chan Ka Ying. The last four overs of the innings would now see the batting powerplay with the last pair at the crease.

Sainammin Saenya was on to bowl the 38th over and she clearly could have been brought on much earlier as she struck with her first ball as Marina Lamplough was dismissed for 0. Hong Kong's total of 122 in 37.1 overs was a creditable score after being 56 for 6 and may well prove to be a testing one for Thailand to chase.

Thailand would have been disappointed that they couldn't bowl out Hong Kong earlier but this is exactly the reason why the six best teams at this level are now playing 40-over cricket in the ACC Women's Premier. It is a much more testing form of cricket than T20 and requires every player in the team to contribute. It appeared we would have an interesting afternoon ahead of us as Thailand needed 123 runs to win.

Hong Kong possess a good bowling attack with three bowlers who have taken five wickets in an innings in the competition so far, Chan Sau Ha, Leslie Dela Pena and Marina Lamplough, but it was Mariko Hill and Clare Crewdson who shared the new ball. Mariko Hill bowls at a lively pace while Crewdson pitches the ball up much further.

Hill started with a pair of wides as Thailand scored 4 from the first over but Crewdson found a good line and bowled Naruman Srisawan for 0. Thailand lost a second wicket in the third over as Naruemol Chaiwai fended off a fiery delivery from Mariko Hill only to be caught at slip for 3. Thailand had a tough task on their hands now.

Nattaya Boochatham who batted beautifully against Bhutan for an unbeaten 52 and Pundarika Prathanmitr who opens in shorter forms of the game were now at the crease and must now see off an impressive new ball attack.

Nattaya and Pundarika are both experienced cricketers and they were able to steady the ship. Nattaya was yet to score but the pugnacious Pundarika had already made 10 and they could prove to be an ideal combination.

Five bowlers were tried in the first 10 overs by Hong Kong captain Ishitaa Gidwani with Marina Lamplough given only a single over despite figures of 5 for 4 against Iran. Left-arm spinner Chan Sau Ha was now in action and Pundarika had a wild swing and survived before she then hit a boundary past a fielder's despairing dive.

Pundarika soon looked like she was taking the game away from Hong Kong as she was pouncing on anything short or over-pitched as she favoured hitting boundaries rather than running short singles. Thailand reached their fifty in the 16th over and Pundarika's seventh four brought up the fifty partnership of which she had scored 35.

Leslie Dela Pena was given a chance to bowl but a mixture of full tosses and wides wan't going to trouble Thailand. The opening bowlers were then brought back to try to make a much-needed breakthrough at Thailand reached 75 for 2 after 20 overs.

Nattaya was content to leave most of the run-scoring to Pundarika as she realised the need to see off the best Hong Kong bowlers. She played an exquisite straight drive for four off Crewdson but Pundarika just couldn't rein in her attacking instincts as she was caught by To Yee Shan off Mariko Hill. Pundarika had made 41 out of a partnership of 72 that had put the home side well on the road to victory.

Nattaya is perfectly suited to the demands of 40-over cricket as she waits for the right moment to unfurl a textbook drive just as she did when she straight-drove Mariko Hill to the boundary. She had been joined at the crease by Sornnarin Tippoch and the 100 came up in the 26th over. Only 21 more runs were needed with 14 overs left and the dangerous Mariko Hill was now taking a rest.

With two wickets down for just nine, Thailand were in a precarious position but they had fought their way out of trouble with an ideal combination of belligerence from Pundarika and more measured stroke-play from Nattaya. Clare Crewdson had now finished her spell and Thailand now needed 12 runs from 12 overs.

Mariko Hill was quickly recalled for her final over and Nattaya was quite prepared to wait for her nexr opportunity to score but it was Sornnarin that hit the boundary that took Thailand within four runs of victory.

With only two needed it was a great surprise when Nattaya was caught by Chan Sau Ha off Ishitaa Gidwani for 32 but her job had been done as Sornnarin levelled the scores and it was left to Chanida Sutthiruang to hit the winning run as Thailand won by six wickets.

It was appropriate Chanida was at the crease when Thailand secured an impressive victory as she had taken the first three wickets in her opening spell and was declared player of the match. Thailand probably let Hong Kong score more runs than they should have done but at least their batting line-up was tested as they successfully chased a target of 123. 40-over cricket is new to all these teams and Thailand will have benefited from having to work hard for their third win in three matches.

ACC Women’s Premier 2014

Day 5: Thailand v Hong Kong at Gymkhana
Thailand won the toss and elected to field
Hong Kong: 122 all out off 37.1 overs (C.Sutthiruang 3-16)
Thailand: 123 for 4 off 33.2 overs (N.Boochatham 32, P.Prathanmitr 41)
Player of the Match: Chanida Sutthiruang (Thailand)

Pictures by Danny Bowes

Tournament Page

Filed February 15th, 2014