Thailand women made history on Thursday by qualifying for their maiden Women's T20 World Cup, to be played in Australia next year. They did so with an emphatic eight-wicket win by chasing 68 against Papua New Guinea in Dundee, where Thailand dominated the game with an all-round display that saw a frugal bowling performance, two run-outs and a convincing batting show.
Thailand's feat was achieved in the 18th over with 15 balls to spare when left-handed Nattaya Boochatham flicked a full toss from medium-pacer Ravina Oa to midwicket where a fumble helped the batsmen complete a quick single. As soon as Boochatham and her partner Nannapat Koncharoenkai completed the winning run, their team-mates burst on to the ground, some with arms raised, some running joyously towards the pitch, and eventually all of them huddled around the two unbeaten batsmen. After the necessary handshakes with their opponents and match officials, the entire team came together once again to form a line and thank the crowd with their hands pressed together and a slight bow, before breaking out into wilder celebrations.
Thailand's journey to the 2020 T20 World Cup first saw them winning the seven-team T20 World Cup Asia Region Qualifier at home in February this year, which was part of a 17-match winning streak in T20Is from July 2018 to August 2019 that saw them qualify for the main qualifiers in Scotland. In this tournament, they topped Group B with three wins out of as many matches to set up semi-final clash with PNG. The winners of the two semi-finals were to qualify for the T20 World Cup and Thailand did so along with Bangladesh, who beat Ireland earlier in the day.
Thailand's chase was led by No. 3 Naruemol Chaiwai, who scored 32 runs out of their total of 68. She scored briskly in the two substantial partnerships for Thailand, of 31 and 33. Thailand were only four runs away from the historic moment when Chaiwai lobbed a simple catch to mid-off in the 16th over, before Boochatham scored the winning runs nine balls later. Chaiwai struck two fours whereas her opening partner Nattakan Chantam scored three during her 31-ball 18. PNG used as many as seven bowlers but their total wasn't big enough to provide a fight.
PNG had opted to bat but their battling line-up stuttered to 27 for 4 in the tenth over and then 46 for 6 in the 16th. Only three batsmen, including opener Sibona Jimmy, were able to score in double-digits as their biggest partnership could put together only 16 runs, for the seventh wicket. Kaia Arua's unbeaten 16 stretched the score past 50 with Chanida Sutthiruang's medium-pace fetching her two wickets, and two run-outs denting PNG further. Sutthiruang is the tournament's leading wicket-taker so far with an impressive tally of 12 from four innings, averaging only 3.91 and conceding 3.52 runs per over.
In the end, Thailand won their fourth straight match and made history by chasing down a total for the first time in the tournament.
Bangladesh sealed their berth for the T20 World Cup, with a four-wicket win against Ireland in the first semi-final of the Women's T20 World Cup Qualifiers in Dundee. Next year's edition will be the fourth time Bangladesh women will participate in the T20 World Cup after 2014, 2016 and 2018.
Bangladesh chased down their target of 86 with nine balls to spare after bowling out Ireland for 85 in 20 overs. Ireland couldn't build much on their decision to bat as their top three batsmen scored only eight runs in all. Jahanara Alam, Nahida Akter and Salma Khatun made the early strikes. Captain Laura Delany steered the innings after they were reduced to 44 for 5. Delany's innings of 25 and her partnership of 30 for the sixth wicket with the experienced Eimear Richardson, who struck a quick 25 off 17, helped Ireland along but legspinner Fahima Khatun dismissed both of them within the space of three balls in the 18th over. From 75 for 7, Ireland managed another ten runs in the last two overs as Fahima struck again to finish with 3 for 18.
Bangladesh were also led by their No. 4, Sanjida Islam, whose unbeaten 32 off 37 balls saw them home. They were given a scare when they were 30 for 4 in the ninth over before Sanjida and Ritu Moni stitched together a stand of 38 runs for the fifth wicket. Bangladesh lost two wickets to run-outs from there but Sanjida sealed their win.