By Elton Gomes
After registering a meagre total of 145 for 6 on a slow track, the Indian women’s cricket team managed to contain the Irish women and defeated them by 52 runs to enter the semi-finals of the ICC T20 International World Cup. The Irish were restricted to 93 for 8 in 20 overs in the Group-B match on Thursday.
After their win against the Irish, India now have six points and are assured of a last-four spot along with Australia (6 points from 3 games).
While India’s batting performance left a lot to be desired, the spinners Radha Yadav (3/25 in 4 overs), Deepti Sharma (2/15 in 3 overs), Poonam Yadav (1/14 in 4 overs), and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (1/10 in 4 overs) were economical, and managed to pick up wickets at regular intervals.
Deepti Sharma gave India the breakthrough as she got rid of Gaby Lewis off her very first delivery. Claire Shillington and Isobel Joyce made efforts to increase the run-rate, but failed as India’s bowling quality kept the score in check.
Radha Yadav was India’s most successful bowler after picking up three wickets in her four overs, while captain Harmanpreet Kaur bowled her four overs for mere 10 runs.
After winning the toss, Ireland opted to field and managed to restrict India to a below-par score of 146/6 in their 20 overs. Opener Mithali Raj was the pick of the batters for India as she slammed her 17th T20I half-century, which was also why she was awarded the player of the match award.
Smriti Mandhana and Mithali Raj were off to a good start as they added 67 runs in the first 10 overs. The duo kept rotating the strike well in the initial overs and even hit a few boundaries to pile on the pressure on the Irish.
Raj scored 51 in 56 balls while Mandhana scored 33 in 29 balls, but the innings failed to gain momentum on a slightly damp track. The decision to bring in Jemimah Rodrigues at the third position was not very effective as Raj failed to get going despite scoring a half-century.
Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur hit a six but was dismissed soon. As wickets fell at one end, Raj was unable to manage on her own. She was finally dismissed in the 19th over, after being deceived by a slower delivery from Kim Garth.
Mithali Raj overtakes Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli to become the highest T20I run-scorer in India
After scoring a half-century against Ireland, Mithali Raj is now the highest run scorer for India in the shortest format of the game.
Raj has reached this milestone by overtaking Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. Other cricketers who are part of the list are India women’s captain Harmanpreet Kaur, Suresh Raina, and M.S. Dhoni.
Raj has had a superb run at the ongoing ICC Women’s World T20. She scored a remarkable 56 against Pakistan in India’s second Group-B clash, and followed it up with a 51-run knock against Ireland, which helped India qualify for the semi-final of the tournament.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius