Abu Dhabi, Sep 23 (IANS): Zimbabwe will take on Ireland while Bangladesh will face Thailand here in the decisive Qualifier semifinals here later on Friday, with the winner of each T20I booking a ticket to South Africa next year for the Women's T20 World Cup.
Zimbabwe, who will play Ireland at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, had made a strong start to the Women's T20 World Cup Qualifier with victories over Papua New Guinea (by eight wickets) and Thailand (sic wickets), according to ICC. But with a semifinal place assured, they were less impressive in their third T20I in the group stage as they lost to the UAE off the last ball.
Ireland began their Qualifier with a 14-run loss to Bangladesh, who went on to cruise through the group stage undefeated. A nine-wicket thumping of the USA put Ireland's campaign back on track, but it took a 19-run win over Scotland in the last group match to decide which of those teams would progress.
Zimbabwe's 16-year-old sensation Kelis Ndlovu has been the team's find in the Qualifiers, having claimed the second-most wickets in the tournament so far with six. The left-arm spinner was at her best with 3/18 in the opener against PNG, and has taken wickets in each match while restricting the opposition to only 4.5 runs an over. She also opens the batting for Zimbabwe, and is averaging 39.5 runs in the Qualifier following 46 against Thailand and an unbeaten 25 against PNG.
Ireland's Gaby Lewis scored a smashing 66 off 37 balls opening against Scotland in the T20I that decided which team would play off in the semifinal. The 21-year-old carried her bat when making an unbeaten 44 as Ireland chased down the USA's total of 91 for the loss of one wicket.
The undefeated Bangladesh were the standout side in the Qualifiers right from their opener versus Ireland. They set the eventual semifinalists Ireland a total of 143/4 then picked up early wickets to hold Ireland at arms-length through the second innings.
They looked even more formidable, dismissing Scotland for 77 and chasing it down with six wickets and seven overs in hand, then smashing 158/1 against the USA to set up a 55-run demolition. Thailand, on the other hand, opened the Qualifier with a seven-wicket win over the UAE after disciplined bowling restricted their opponents to only 92/5 from their 20 overs. The tables were turned in Thailand's second T20I of the group stage as they made 86/6 from their full 20 overs in a six-wicket loss to Zimbabwe, according to ICC.
Thailand then bounced back when a semifinal spot was there for the winner to claim against Papua New Guinea, defending their score of 93/8 with some clever bowling to win by 12 runs as Nattaya Boochatham led the way with 4/8 off four overs.