The qualifying tournament for the 2016 Women’s T20 World Cup saw eight teams playing for two places, with the competition taking place in Bangkok, Thailand from 28th November until 5th of December 2015.
Group A featured Bangladesh, Scotland, Papua New Guinea and Thailand, while in Group B Ireland were placed with Zimbabwe, The Netherlands and China.
The opening matches went very much to form with Ireland having little trouble beating the Dutch by eight wickets. Miranda Veringmeier hit eight boundaries as she made 53, but they were restricted by tight Irish bowling as three wickets for Isobel Joyce and two for Ciara Metcalfe kept them to 90 for 6. Cecelia Joyce (39) and Clare Shillington (33) ensured the win was secured in the 12th over.
Zimbabwe beat China by ten wickets as skipper Chipo Mugeri made an unbeaten half century as they chased 89 to win in the penultimate over. Bangladesh would have been a little concerned having been restricted to 105 for 6 by the hosts, but needn’t have worried as their bowlers skittled Thailand for just 32. Scotland opened up their campaign with an emphatic eight-wicket win against Papua New Guinea, who had four run outs as they made just 53 – Kari Anderson’s 24 not out ensuring a routine chase.
Day two saw Ireland beat a dogged China by 28 runs with Isobel Joyce putting in a Player of the Match display by hitting 41 and taking 2 for 11 as China were kept to 76 for 7 replying to Ireland’s 104. In the other game in the group, Zimbabwe edged out The Netherlands by two runs in a thriller. Chasing 110, The Netherlands fell just short suffering three run outs including the crucial one of top scorer Sterre Kalis in the last over.
Bangladesh took a giant step towards topping the group with a convincing eight wicket victory against Scotland – Rumana Ahmed’s three wickets helping dismiss the Scots to 53. Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea beat Thailand by seven wickets chasing just 71.
In the final group games Ireland duly topped the group as they completed a straightforward seven wicket win against Zimbabwe. Isobel Joyce was again in the wickets, claiming four scalps, while twin sister Cecelia top scored with 36 in the comfortable victory. China’s Huang Zhuo made 40 not out as China claimed their first win, beating The Netherlands by five wickets chasing 103.
As expected Bangladesh won Group A as they beat Papua New Guinea by 41 runs, defending 100. Khadiza Tul Kubra claimed 5 for 11 as once again their bowling unit proved virtually unplayable. Scotland joined them in the semi-finals with a solid win over Papua New Guinea, Rachel Scholes hitting 32 as they chased a modest 75.
The semi-finals pitted the celtic rivals against each other and it was the more experienced Irish who emerged comfortable victors. Lucy O’Reilly took three wickets as Scotland limped to 77 for 9, which proved woefully inadequate as Cecelia Joyce (36*) and Claire Shillington (34) both scored quickly to secure the place in the final and a World Cup slot.
Bangladesh joined them with a 31-run win against Zimbabwe, despite only posting 89 for 5, indebted to Fargana Hoque’s run-a-ball 43. Rumana Ahmed (4-8) again in the wickets as Zimbabwe made just 58.
In the classification matches Papua New Guinea stunned The Netherlands chasing 105 to win by one wicket, while in another nail-biter China edged out Thailand by five runs much to the disappointment of the home support. There was better news for them though in the battle to avoid the wooden spoon as they chased 70 to hammer the Dutch by nine wickets. Papua New Guinea claimed fifth slot beating China by seven wickets, while Zimbabwe beat Scotland by three wickets – Chipo Mugeri the hero once again as her 47 not out secured the win from the penultimate delivery.
The final saw Ireland come out on top in the most dramatic of series finals against Bangladesh, with the contest only decided in the very last ball of the match. It was a game that had everything- ending with the umpires forced to adjudge on a “Mankad”- style run-out off what would have been the final delivery with the scores tied and thunder and lightning rapidly closing in on the Terdthai Ground in Bangkok.
Salma Khatun sent down the 20th over for the Tigers with Ireland needing nine to win but Laura Delany and Lucy O'Reilly managed to get 8 from the first 5 to tie it up. Khatun then attempted to run out Delany without delivering the last ball but after much deliberation the umpires ruled against the bowler's appeal.
O'Reilly gleefully thumped the actual final delivery - a rank long hop - to the midwicket boundary to spark wild celebrations in the Irish camp.
Earlier, a 74-run stand between Nigar Sultana and Rumana Ahmed then had Ireland very much on the back foot before Metcalfe again came to the rescue, dismissing the former for an impressive 41. Ahmed was unbeaten on 38 when the overs were up- Bangladesh with a very competitive 105 for 3 from their allotted overs while for the fielding side, Metcalfe was the stand-out with 3-14.
Cecilia Joyce and Clare Shillington gave their side's reply a solid start with 24 before Shillington was bowled by Ahmed for 12 (from just 7 balls). A couple of quick wickets for Akhter- Kim Garth (2) and Cath Dalton (5) followed by the run-out of skipper Isobel Joyce for 8 got Bangladesh right back into contention however and it was all-square at half-way.
Delany then entered the fray and batted with great composure and with heavy rain enveloping the ground a valuable stand of 24 between her and Gaby Lewis (11) edged the batting side back in front. There was more drama to come however as Lewis and then her sister, Robyn, were both involved in run-outs as indecision threatened to ruin Ireland's day.
Delany stood firm at the other end and was there unbeaten on 26 as the frenetic conclusion was played out before a delighted Isobel Joyce was called forward to receive the trophy.
Player-of-the match, and indeed the series overall was the excellent Rumana Ahmed who cut a totally despondent figure as she collected both consolation prizes, ahead of twin sisters Isobel and Cecelia Joyce, who finished second and third in the tournament player rankings.
Cecelia (151 runs) was the top run scorer in a tournament where runs were at a premium, ahead of Sterre Kalis and Huang Zhuo, who both made 122.
Rumana was clearly the stand-out bowler – her 14 wickets costing just 3.64 each, ahead of Isobel Joyce whose ten averaged 8.10.
There were only three batters with strike rates in excess of 100 – Clare Shillington and the Joyces.