Cricket is a game followed in many countries across the world. But, only a few countries have a team, which can compete well at the highest level. The test playing nations are only a few, whom the cricketing world regularly watches. These countries have worked hard for their presence felt in the game's legacy, resulting in a lot of youngsters wanting to play the game at the highest in these countries. But there are a lot of non-test playing countries, where the game is not that popular, yet there are some aspiring youngsters who wish to take their team in the elite group. With their amazing talent, these nations try to grab the eyeballs of the cricketing world. The likes of Nepal, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Scotland Namibia, Hong Kong and many others are on this list.
Thailand is one of these nations. Time and again, Thailand has tried to make its presence felt in the international cricket circuit. While on one hand, where Thailand's men's cricket team is struggling to find a place in the ICC events, their women's team has done well to participate in these ICC events. The women's team of Thailand have been a part of the world cups. While performing at the international level, few players have grabbed the attention of the cricketing world. If there is a list of players from Thailand who are putting Thailand on the cricketing map, Natthakan Chantam has to be on the top of that list.
Jeans, as she is popularly called, has been an integral part of the team since her debut. An attacking opener, she times the ball well. In the recently concluded T20 world cup in 2020, she was the highest run-scorer for the Thai team in the tournament. In the same tournament, she registered the first half-century by any Thai women cricketer in an ICC event. Furthermore, she has been in great form in the year 2021. In the post covid matches, she played a vital role. She scored 2 consecutive centuries while playing against African nations. In the recently concluded world cup qualifiers, the Thai team was in great touch and had a possible chance to qualify, but mid-way cancellation of the qualifiers didn't allow them to do so. In these matches too, Natthakan played a vital role.
Her performance in the past years was noticed, as she became the first Thai player to be a part of franchise leagues in the world. She was selected for IPL Trailblazers in the Women's T20 challenge 2020 in India, a team led by Smriti Mandhana. In the final of the tournament, Jeans pulled out a phenomenal dive to save a boundary for her team. Her fielding effort grabbed the attention of all the cricket fans. It was one of the best fielding efforts in the history of women's cricket, if not the best. Furthermore, she also held a magnificent one-handed Blinder to dismiss Jemimah Rodrigues. The trailblazers won the match, and the tournament, defending a low total, and Jeans had significantly contributed to their victory by boosting the morale of the team with her splendid fielding.
The fan following of the batter increased thereafter. Especially Indian fans flooded her with messages applauding her fielding effort. Coincidentally, Jeans has a wonderful bond with India. Since the coach of the Thailand women's team, Harshal Pathak is from Pune, the entire team spends significant time in Pune. Natthakan loves to spend time in Pune too. Through her social media accounts, she always keeps updating her pictures from various parts of Pune, and she has always been vocal about her love for Indian culture.
Well, her practice in India has yielded her results. In addition to this, her participation in leagues like the women's T20 challenge has boosted her confidence. With sky-high confidence, we wish she reaches new heights in the game, and her performance makes the cricketing world takes the notice of Thailand team. On her birthday, we wish her, that her nation ends up being a Test-playing nation, just like her second home India. And if it happens someday soon, she will be the primary reason for their team to achieve this goal.
Authored By:- Ashwin Jangam ( Cricket Analyst, Host and Entertainer)
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