West Indies 80 for 3 (Taylor 26*, Campbelle 25*) beat Thailand 78 for 9 (Koncharoenkai 33, Taylor 3-13) by seven wickets
West Indies opened their T20 World Cup campaign with a win they would have expected, though not without a sizeable fright chasing a small target against a Thailand combination that lost their first ever match at an ICC global event but won plenty of friends along the way at the WACA Ground in Perth.
If Thailand’s batting order found themselves struggling to handle the pace and bounce of a pitch that could not have been more different to that prepared for the opening night on the other side of the continent, they bowled and fielded with tremendous skill, determination and no little flare to have the West Indies in early trouble in their chase. But for a DRS reprieve for Shemaine Campbelle, West Indies may have been 4 for 27 chasing 79 to win.
As it was, Campbelle and the captain Stafanie Taylor had to work extremely hard to build the partnership that closed out the fixture, allowing West Indies to notch a valuable opening victory. As for Thailand, they now know they belong among the world’s best company, and other sides will need to be wary.
Thailand’s baptism of fire
Less than 24 hours after the tournament favourites Australia were spun out by India on a Sydney Showgrounds pitch that was so slow and low as to be almost subterranean, the T20 World Cup debutants from Thailand found themselves batting in WACA conditions that offered steep bounce and pace to West Indies. While the Thailand captain Sornnarin Tippoch had no hesitation about choosing to bat, the early going suggested that this surface required quite an adjustment.
The new ball fizzed through with some swing, often being taken at hip height and higher by Campbelle, and it was no surprise to see openers Nattaya Boochatham and Nattakan Chantam dismissed when they both failed to ride the bounce – Chantam first being able to connect with a pair of handsome drives through cover point. These early incisions allowed West Indies to more or less dictate terms, placing a clamp on the run rate and restricting the flow of boundaries.
Taylor plucks a triple
Nannapat Koncharoenkai proved herself a dependable No. 3 for Thailand, hanging around for 33 runs and offering the innings the spine that it required, albeit without ever really threatening West Indies in terms of run rate. Any hopes of late acceleration were to be snuffed out by Taylor, who with her accurate offspin cut a swathe through the middle and lower order.
She started with the key wicket of her opposite number, Tippoch, who dragged an attempted slog sweep onto the stumps. Two more victims gave Taylor 3 for 13 and the assurance that Thailand, having scrambled to 2 for 46 after 11.1 overs, could add only another 32 runs for the loss of seven wickets in the remaining 53 deliveries of the innings.
Tigerish Thai fielding effort
Given that a number of Thailand’s very first generation of cricketers were plucked out of university softball programs in their homeland, it stands at least somewhat to reason that fielding would be a strongpoint for the team. However, the intensity and skill they brought to the early overs of their defence of a paltry target for West Indies turned plenty of heads, not only to Thailand’s ability but also the infinite promise of what might be out there among other nations yet to take up cricket as a major sport of choice.
First, there was a bullseye direct hit from Naruemol Chaiwai to the bowler’s end to see off opener Lee-Ann Kirby, then Suleeporn Laomi’s pick up and throw was right over the bails to allow the run out of Deandra Dottin. These wickets fell either side of Soraya Lateh skidding a shorter ball through the attempted pull shot of Hayley Matthews, and when Cambelle appeared to have been pinned lbw by a sharp inswinger from Chanida Sutthiruang, West Indies were briefly 4 for 27 and in serious danger of defeat.
DRS, Taylor allow West Indies to wriggle free
After some deliberation, Campbelle reviewed the decision, which to the naked eye had appeared to be very out indeed. However ball-tracking was to reveal that the ball had not hit Campbelle quite as soon after pitching as it initially appeared, meaning the ball had more time to continue arrowing past the leg stump. The decision was met with plenty of West Indian relief, as Campbelle and Taylor set about closing in on the target.
Nevertheless, things were not made easy for them, as Thailand continued to throw themselves around the field and delivered numerous tight overs, including one nerveless maiden from Laomi. Ultimately, Taylor and Campbelle were able to reach the target with 20 balls to spare, but any side not able to contain Thailand to such a small tally with the bat can expect a stiff fight to chase it down with the bat.