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Thailand wins ACC Women’s Championship

Thailand captain Sornnarin Tippoch became the first player to score a century in ACC Women’s Cricket and was named player of the tournament.

Richard Lockwood
Thursday 31st January 2013 was a historic day for Cricket in Thailand as their women’s team beat China by 17 runs in the wonderful new ground at Royal Chiang Mai Golf Club in the final of the ACC Women’s Championship to lift a prestigious trophy after bravely holding off the mighty Chinese team who had been unbeaten in the completion.
Thailand’s girls will now have the chance to travel to Ireland to play in the qualifying tournament for the next Women’s World Twenty20 where they will lock horns with Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Netherlands, Canada, Japan and a team from Africa.
This all seemed only a dream at the start At the start of the day this all seemed highly unlikely as an overnight storm had swept across Chiang Mai but the match was moved from Prem Oval to Royal Chiang Mai and this proved to be a fitting stage for a triumphant day for Thailand with a large and enthusiastic crowd in attendance.
Thailand were asked to bat first in the final and were struggling against a testing Chinese bowling attack when captain Sornnarin Tippoch was joined by Chanida Sutthiruang and a precarious position of 46 for five was converted into a more than useful total of 95 for six. Sornnarin played the sheet anchor role with an unbeaten 28 and Chanida contributed a lusty 17 to a partnership of 40 in six overs.
Chanida then dismissed both openers in her first over and China were 0 for 2 and then 5 for 5. The Chinese were unbeaten so far in the tournament with six wins out of six but they were now surely heading for defeat. Huang Zhuo did her best until she was out for 30 in the last over but Thailand were able to secure victory by 17 runs as China were bowled out for 78 in 24.4 overs.

Somnarin in action on the pitch.

The presentations were a joyous occasion as Sornnarin Tippoch lifted the trophy and also won the player of the tournament award for 13 wickets and 186 runs as well as becoming the first player to score a century in ACC women’s cricket. Chanida Sutthiruang was named player of the match for her 17 and 3 for 6 and was also bowler of the tournament with 18 wickets, while China’s Zhang Mei was made batter of the tournament with 269 runs.
Iran won the Spirit of Cricket Award for their contribution on and off the field to a memorable competition that will be long remembered in Thailand. Chiang Mai had proved itself as the perfect venue for international cricket at this level with three contrasting grounds and the ability to organize a well-run tournament with 11 teams from across Asia.
The first week of the competition saw the group stages with China and Thailand matching each other with four impressive victories. Thailand won their first three matches without losing a wicket and then the irrepressible captain Sornnarin Tippoch made history by scoring 108* against Singapore which was the first hundred in the ACC Women’s Cricket.

Men’s cricket continued at the Gymkhana Club with the British Club visiting Chiang Mai in a annual fixture that goes back more than 30 years.

The Chinese had been even more impressive with a series of powerful performances with bat and ball and they finished top of Group B by beating Thailand by 47 runs at Prem Oval, but the home side had shown China were not invincible by dismissing them for 118 and had given a performance in the field that had spectators gasping with amazement.
Nepal had easily won Group A ahead of Hong Kong who had been defending champions, and so met Thailand in the first semi-final. Chanida Sutthiruang was given the new ball and returned astonishing figures of 5 for 2 as Nepal were bowled out for 38 and the home side held their nerve to win by seven wickets and Thailand were now just one win away from glory.
China completely outclassed Hong Kong in the second semi-final with their openers producing their second partnership of 141 in the competition. But the Chinese finally met their match in the final against Thailand with both openers failing to score and history was made as Thailand enjoyed a historic triumph and the memories will live on forever.
Even with the ACC Women’s Championship taking the headlines, men’s cricket continued at Gymkhana Club with the British Club visiting from Bangkok for their annual fixture in Chiang Mai which has stretched back more than 30 years. Gymkhana Club easily won a two-innings match with a total of almost 40 players having an enjoyable afternoon. Singapore CC are another famous team who enjoy regular visits to Chiang Mai and the home side showed its growing strength by scoring 202 in 30 overs and winning by 17 runs.
Enjoyable and competitive cricket continues at Gymkhana Club every weekend until the San Miguel Chiang Mai International Sixes begin on 31st March.

Kirilenko and Lisicki serve up a thriller in Pattaya Women’s Open final

Russia’s Maria Kirilenko bounced back from a set down to defeat Germany’s Sabine Lisicki 5-7, 6-1, 7-6 (7-1) in an enthralling singles final at the 2013 PTT Pattaya Women’s Open on Sunday, Feb. 3 to claim her first WTA Tour title in 5 years.

The graceful Kirilenko serves to Lisicki during the opening set.

On finals day the stadium at the Dusit Thani Pattaya tennis center was transformed into something more reminiscent of a Moscow or St. Petersburg amphitheatre for a Davis Cup match, as a huge Russian contingent arrived to give enthusiastic vocal support to the tournament’s number 2 seed.
In a tense but high quality opening to the match both players fought hard to gain an advantage, with Lisicki’s big serve and ground stokes being countered by her opponent’s subtle all-court game. After swapping a couple of early breaks the match settled down and went with serve until with the score standing at 6-5 to Lisicki, Kirilenko was the first to blink as she missed a forehand long on a critical point to hand the first set to her younger opponent.
The match really turned on its head however at the start of the second set. After holding serve, Lisicki had three break points in the next game to take what could have been a decisive 2-0 lead. Instead, Kirilenko dug deep into her resources and eventually hung on to hold serve and even up the scores.
All indications were that the second set would then follow a similar pattern to the first, however Lisicki’s form began to desert her just when she needed it most and she promptly lost the next eight games on the bounce, offering little resistance as Kirilenko grew in confidence and started to dictate the pattern of each point.
Staring defeat in the face at 5-2 down and 15-40 in the final set, Lisicki suddenly threw caution to the wind and the match was to witness yet another remarkable swing of momentum. Fending off three match points, the German starlet held her own serve and then set about breaking her opponent’s - not once but twice.
Kirilenko could barely believe what was happening as she saw her lead evaporate and at 5-6 down suddenly she was the one needing to break serve to stay in the match. Lisicki’s powerful serve had proved a potent weapon in the deciding set as she sent down a succession of booming aces, however, with a chance to serve out for the title the nerves appeared to take over and the German’s service game began to misfire. Kirilenko saw an opportunity and pounced to break back and take the match into a tie-break.
Showing all the experience of her 10 years on the pro tour, Kirilenko stormed into a 5-0 lead in the tie-breaker and this time she wasn’t about to let her opponent off the hook. At 6-1 to the Russian, Lisicki’s backhand flew just wide of the line and Kirilenko sank to her knees, raising her arms in triumph. The match had lasted 2 hours and 37 minutes and had been a captivating spectacle throughout.
“I had a birthday just before the tournament started and had a cake in my room with some candles, and I made a wish. The wish was to win this tournament and I think it was good one because it came true,” Kirielko told the crowd following the trophy presentation.
“I was a little disappointed in the third set,” she added. “I was kicking myself for losing the 5-2 lead and then somehow I returned her serves at 6-5 and it was a tiebreak and then I started to feel I can win it again.”
The win was just the sixth title of Kirilenko’s career and her first since beating Martinez-Sanchez in Barcelona in 2008. As well as picking up the first prize of $40,000, Kirilenko also garnered 280 valuable ranking points to go with the crown.
In the doubles final which followed immediately afterwards, Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm and Australian Casey Dellacqua easily defeated Uzbekistan’s Akgul Amanmuradova and Russia’s Alexandra Panova 6-3, 6-2.

Aphibarnrat fires final round 63 to win Singha Masters title

Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat carded an impressive final round 63 to overhaul Baek Seuk-Hun and claim victory in the 2013 Singha Masters, held at the Santiburi Country Club in Chiang Rai from Jan. 31 – Feb. 3.
Trailing overnight leader Baek Seuk-Hun by one shot going into the day’s play, Kiradech opened with a blistering front nine 31 as he reeled off 5 successive birdies from the third hole onwards. The Thai star then added 4 more birdies on the back-nine stretch in a bogey free round that saw him finish the tournament on 25-under par.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat plays an approach shot during his final round at the 14th Singha Masters golf tournament held at the Santiburi Country Club in Chiang Rai, Sunday, Feb. 3. (Photo courtesy All Thailand Golf Tour)

Baek had to be content with second place after his final round 66 left him 2 shots adrift on 23-under par.
Lee Sung from South Korea and Thailand’s Sutjet Kooratanapisan tied for third place after both carded final round 66’s to finish on 18-under-par 270, while defending champion defending champion Prayad Marksaeng was left some way back in sixth on 15-under.
Kiradech took home 600,000 baht for his second win on the Singha All Thailand Tour, while Baek received 362,000 baht.
Thidapa Suwannapura was crowned champion in the women’s tournament despite struggling home on the last day with a 2-over par 74. Thidapa finished the tournament on a total of 6-under 282 to claim the first prize of 70,000 baht. Porani Chutichai and Jaruporn Palakawong Na Ayutthaya shared second place just one shot behind on 5-under.
The 14th Singha Masters marked the final leg of the 2012 All Thailand Tour. The 2013 season gets underway this month with the Singha Esan Open at the Singha Park Golf Club, Khon Kaen from Feb. 14-17 before moving onto Pattaya and Hua Hin. The Singha Chiang Mai Open will be held this year from August 8-11 at a venue yet to be confirmed.

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Thailand wins ACC Women’s Championship

Kirilenko and Lisicki serve up a thriller in Pattaya Women’s Open final

Aphibarnrat fires final round 63 to win Singha Masters title