15-year-old opener Disha Dhingra made a career-best 55 not out off 51 balls to offer a silver lining in what was a dominant victory by Thailand over USA.
Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna in Abu Dhabi (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna)
Thailand captain Naruemol Chaiwai’s unbeaten 42 off 41 balls propelled her side to a formidable total of 168 for 5, which wound up being more than enough in 64-run win over USA Women in the final warm-up match on Friday at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi ahead of the start of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier. USA continued to show signs of improvement in their buildup to the tournament, breaking the 100-run barrier for the first time in three tries against Thailand as 15-year-old Disha Dhingra made an unbeaten 55 off 51 balls, including six fours, batting all 20 overs of the chase.
Thailand won the toss and chose to bat first, maintaining an aggressive approach throughout. They struck 11 runs off each of their first two overs, and finished the Powerplay at 47 for 2. Natthakan Chantham was the first wicket to fall, chasing after a wider ball from Isani Vaghela and edging behind for 11. Nannapat Koncharoenkai was then bowled by Dhingra for 23 after playing over the top of a pull shot.
But in spite of the early losses, Thailand kept plowing ahead undeterred while USA leadership opted to utilize the match’s warm-up designation – in which all 15 squad players were allowed to participate – to give 10 bowlers an opportunity to test themselves against Thailand as Geetika Kodali was the only one to bowl more than two overs. Sornnarin Tippoch went after Kodali in a see-saw 18-run over in the 8th that included a no-ball hooked for six over fine leg and the ensuing free hit top-edged over the keeper for four more runs. But Kodali struck back at the end of over with a bouncer that produced a top-edge claimed by Sindhu Sriharsha behind the stumps for her second catch to make it 72 for 3.
After a very nervy start including several full tosses, 15-year-old legspinner Sai Eyyunni settled down to flight a fullish length ball that sucked Nattaya Boochatham into a drive to Kodali at extra cover for 6 to make it 81 for 4 at the halfway point.
Thailand’s depth however was too much for USA to handle as they added another 87 across the final 10 overs, spearheaded by Chaiwai and Chanida Sutthiruang during a 65-run fifth wicket stand spanning 8.2 overs. Sutthiruang was the aggressor, striking five boundaries in her 35 off 27 balls before she was runout by Vaghela in the 19th. Chaiwai was on strike on 33 and pulled to Vaghela at midwicket in the ring, who spilled the chance but recovered to relay to Anika Kolan – who had taken over as wicketkeeper for Sriharsha at the halfway point of the innings – behind the stumps to deny a single and complete the runout of Sutthiruang.
Chaiwai offered one other chance, a fierce pull to midwicket on 21 in the 15th over off the bowling of Taranum Chopra that was shelled in the ring by Sriharsha, but managed to stay until the end having entered in the fifth over. Along with Rosenan Kanoh, Chaiwai helped Thailand add 26 runs across the final two overs bowled by Paul and Kodali.
Dhingra finished with USA’s best figures, claiming 1 for 12 in her two overs which were both bowled in the Powerplay. Vaghela claimed 1 for 13 in her two overs, Eyyunni 1 for 18 in two and Kodali 1 for 37 in three.
Mahika Kandanala was the first wicket to fall in the USA chase, bowled for 2 attempting to pull Boochatham’s offspin to make it 10 for 1. Sriharsha entered at No. 3 and continued the attacking approach she has employed throughout the tour, making 20 out of a 30-run partnership with Dhingra before she was cramped for room attempting to cut Tippoch’s spin and bowled to make it 40 for 2 in the eight.
Paul joined Dhingra and the teenage pair added 51 for the third wicket in a partnership that chugged along at a steady rate but never produced a double-digit over. Paul struggled to pick gaps despite her attacking intent and started on 3 off 11 balls before finally finding her rhythm. She grew more confident as the innings wore on and played a pair of reverses through third man in the 17th over before finally perishing in the 18th, driving Onnicha Kamchomphu’s spin to Phannita Maya at extra cover for 17. Kamchomphu rounded off a double-wicket maiden claiming Vaghela with a third-ball duck to end the over to make it 91 for 4.
Having been off strike for the entirety of the 18th, Dhingra could only manage a single in the 19th to start the final over on 49. But after a single by Kolan, she punched a single down the ground to bring up her half-century off 49 balls. After Kolan was out skying a catch to long-on for 2 on the next ball, Dhingra got the strike back crossing with the ball in the air and ended the innings with a boundary through square leg and a single to end unbeaten on 55 in what was a chanceless innings.
Kamchomphu produced Thailand’s best figures with 2 for 14 in four overs. Boochatham ended with 1 for 4 in two, Tippoch claimed 1 for 5 in two and left-arm spinner Thipatcha Putthawong returned 1 for 26 in four overs after removing Kolan in the final frame.
USA’s first match of the tournament in Group A is against Scotland on Sunday night at 7 pm local time at Tolerance Oval, the nursery ground outside of Zayed Cricket Stadium.