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Bangladesh clinch thriller against Pakistan; Thailand beat hosts Zimbabwe in WC qualifiers

Bangladesh women's cricket team rejoicing after their win in Harare on November 21, 2021. Photo: ICC

Harare, Nov 22 (MNN) Bangladesh and Thailand beat Pakistan and Zimbabwe respectively to get their first points on board on the opening day of ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifiers here.

In the first match, after putting Pakistan in to bat first in Harare, Bangladesh had them on the ropes early on. Pakistan only managed to get 20 runs in the Powerplay and also lost the wicket of opener Ayesha Zafar to a run-out.

The runs were hard to come by for Pakistan with the bowlers keeping it tight even after fielding restrictions were lifted. Bangladesh eventually reaped the rewards for their brilliant bowling, with the wicket of Muneeba Ali triggering a mini-collapse.

In a span of four overs, Pakistan lost four wickets for just seven runs. Ritu Moni scalped the wickets of Ali and Omaima Sohail in a span of three balls while Nahida Akter sent skipper Javeria Khan and Iram Javed in consecutive overs. Pakistan, who were 42/1 at one stage, had lost half their side with just 49 runs on board.

Pakistan needed something special to get out of the situation. Nida Dar and Aliya Riaz answered the call, stitching together a stunning 137-run stand to bail Pakistan out of trouble.

Both the batters brought up their half-centuries. While Dar got out in the 49th over, Riaz remained unbeaten on 61* to help Pakistan post a respectable total of 201/7.

In response, Anam Amin struck early for Pakistan, dismissing Murshida Khatun in the Powerplay.

Sharmin Akhter and Fargana Hoque put on 70 runs for the second wicket but were made to work very hard for their runs. The bowlers were splendid in the first 10 overs, giving away just one boundary.

The two batters targetted Fatima Sana, who gave 17 runs in her opening two overs. Nida Dar and Nashra Sandhu bowled very well in the middle overs to put Pakistan in a strong position going into the slog overs. Bowling continuously between overs 17 and 34, they gave away only 34 runs, with Sandhu accounting for the wickets of Akhter and skipper Nigar Sultana.

Bangladesh were in further trouble once they lost the set batter Fargana Hoque in the 36th over.

Needing 89 runs in the last 10 overs, Rumana Ahmed and Ritu Moni finally started to find the boundaries. Ahmed found the ropes twice in the 44th over against Diana Baig while Ritu Moni smashed Sana for three consecutive fours.

However, three wickets in four balls threatened to derail all the momentum as the required run rate climbed over 10. However, Ahmed calmed the nerves in the dugout, hitting Sohail for four boundaries in the 48th over.

Ahmed got to her fifty in the final over with Salma Khatun keeping her company with an unbeaten 11-ball 16 as Bangladesh clinched the thriller with two balls to spare.

In the second qualifier, Thailand opted to bat first against hosts Zimbabwe.

Natthakan Chantham and Sornnarin Tippoch consolidated the innings after the early wicket of Nattaya Boochatham, who was out bowled by Esther Mbofana. They looked set for their half-centuries but fell short of the milestone, with Loreen Tshuma scalping both the batters in consecutive overs.

Skipper Naruemol Chaiwai and Nannapat Koncharoenkai navigated Thailand through the rest of the middle overs, adding 69 runs for the fourth wicket.

Chanida Sutthiruang’s 28-ball 35* helped Thailand post a solid target of 248 for Zimbabwe to chase down.

In response, Zimbabwe got off to a slow yet steady start, with the openers putting on 49 for the first wicket in 17 overs. After the fall of the wicket, Sharne Mayers and Josephine Nkomo upped the scoring rate, stitching 59 runs in 70 balls.

Once Mayers fell short of a fifty by three runs, Nkomo Mary-Anne Musonda started to take the attack to the Thailand bowlers. Both the batters brought up their respective fifties and brought the equation down to 65 in 10 overs with eight wickets still in hand.

Suleeporn Laomi struck for Thailand in the 41st over, breaking the 77-run partnership that came in just 75 balls.

The wicket derailed all the momentum that Zimbabwe had built as they struggled to find boundaries in the death. In fact, they found the ropes just once in the last nine overs.

Despite Musonda batting till the end of the innings, Zimbabwe fell short by 9 runs as Thailand put their first points on board.

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