Dubai [UAE], September 23 (ANI): The crucial Qualifier semi-finals on Friday will determine the final two berths in the ICC Women's T20 World Cup in 2023 as Zimbabwe take on Ireland, and Bangladesh face Thailand.
The first semi-final will be played between Zimbabwe and Ireland at Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi from 15:00 (local time) while the second will be played at the same ground at 19:00 (local time) on Friday.
Zimbabwe got off to a strong start in the Women's T20 World Cup Qualifier, defeating Thailand and Papua New Guinea (8 wickets each) (6 wickets).
They were less impressive in their third T20I of the group stage, after already having secured a spot in the semi-finals. However, UAE won their sole encounter of the competition with a boundary off the penultimate ball.
Ireland opened the qualifier with what now appears to be a fair 14-run defeat to Bangladesh, who went on to win the group stage easily.
Ireland's campaign was revived by a resounding 9-wicket thrashing of the USA. Still, it needed a stirring 19-run victory over Scotland in the final group game to determine which of those sides would advance.
Zimbabwean to keep an eye on - Kelis NdlovuSix wickets later in the Women's T20 World Cup Qualifier, the 16-year-old prodigy has taken the second-most in the competition thus far.
The left-arm spinner has collected wickets while limiting the opposition to only 4.5 runs per over in each game. She was at her best with 3/18 in the opener against Papua New Guinea.
This rising talent is also Zimbabwe's opening batsman and is averaging 39.5 runs in the qualifying matches after scoring 46 against Thailand and 25 against PNG.
Irish to keep an eye on - Gaby LewisAs demonstrated by a scorching 66 off 37 balls while opening against Scotland in the T20I that determined which team would play off in the semi-final, the ICC 100% Cricket sensation can turn it on when it matters the most.
When Lewis was bowled on the first ball against Bangladesh, the squad fell 14 runs short without her regular contribution, highlighting the importance of the 21-year-old to the team. Ireland had to chase down Bangladesh's score of 91 runs, and they did so for the loss of one wicket.
The second semifinal will see Bangladesh and Thailand eyeing a place in the T20 World Cup.
From the moment they played their first T20I against Ireland, Bangladesh, an unbeaten team, stood out in their Qualifier group.
Bangladesh put up an intimidating total of 143/4 against the eventual semifinalist team before taking early wickets to keep Ireland at a distance throughout the second innings.
When they dismissed Scotland for 77 and finished the chase with six wickets and seven overs remaining after hammering 158/1 against the USA to set up a 55-run rout, they appeared even more menacing.
After their opponents were held to only 92/5 from their 20 overs by Thailand's disciplined bowling, the UAE was destroyed by Thailand by seven wickets to start the qualifier.
Thailand lost by six wickets to Zimbabwe in their second T20I of the group stage after scoring 86/6 from their allotted 20 overs.
When a semi-final position was up for grabs against Papua New Guinea, Thailand responded by protecting their score of 93/8 with some astute bowling to win by 12 runs, with Nattaya Boochatham leading the way with 4/8 off four overs.
Thai player to watch out for - Nattaya BoochathamThe off-spinner who opens the bowling for Thailand is the Qualifier group stage's top wicket-taker with seven, and she has demonstrated her ability to both strike early and stem the flow of runs.
Boochatham nearly guaranteed Thailand's spot in the semifinals with 4/8 off four overs in the last group game as they held Papua New Guinea to a meagre total of 93 with just the victor keeping their hopes of qualifying alive.
With 2/7, which featured a critical wicket in the opening over of the innings, the 35-year-old veteran also contributed to the victory against the UAE, but she detracted from it against Zimbabwe with 1/31.
Bangladeshi player to watch out for - Nigar SultanaWith 157 runs from three matches, the Bangladesh captain had a 44-run cushion over the next best scorer to take first place in the group stage of the qualifiers.
The dependable Sultana, who bats first-drop, has contributed runs in every game, scoring 67 against Ireland, 34 against Scotland, and then 56 against the USA.
Thailand's hopes of travelling to South Africa rest on Sultana, the No. 23 batter in the MRF Tyres ICC Women's T20I Rankings. (ANI)