By Brandon Corlette
India have strolled into the semi-finals of the Women’s World T20 tournament joining Australia in Group B, with a convincing 52-run win against a devastated Ireland team.
Mithali Raj became the leading run-scorer for India in T20 Internationals (men and women). She stroked yet another half-century as India posted 145-6 in their 20 overs at Providence. Accurate Indian spin bowling restricted Ireland to 93-8 in 20 overs.
It has been hot and humid throughout the matches played at the National Stadium, Providence, East Bank Demerara, Guyana, but the match between India and Ireland was a different setting. The heavy rainfall that passed over the city influenced Ireland’s Captain to bowl first after winning the toss.
The vastly-experienced Raj and the exciting Mandhana took first strike and the opening pair added 67 runs together. Mandhana was yoked by Kim Garth for a well-played 33 runs from 29 balls. Raj continued to play the anchor role in the Indian innings, but Ireland continued to show positive signs with the ball in this World T20 tournament. The Mumbai teenager, Jemimah Rodrigues was the second wicket to fall when she ran past a Delany delivery and was stumped brilliantly by Ireland wicket-keeper Waldron. With the score on 107-2 in the 15th over, the third Indian wicket to fall was the tournament’s only centurion Harmanpreet Kaur, who was dismissed for seven after hitting a six. Kaur was brilliantly caught at deep-cover by Kavanagh off the bowling of Richardson.
Raj scored her second fifty in as many innings in this tournament, but it has been a struggle for the Indian stalwart. She brought up her half-century off 54 balls with four boundaries and one six. A slower ball bowled wide on the off-stump by Garth led to the demise of Raj in the 19th over with the score on 133-5. Lucy O’Reilly, who was Ireland’s best bowler in the last match against Pakistan, bowled a brilliant final over, conceding only seven runs as India ended on 145-6 when their 20 overs concluded. Garth grabbed 2-22 in her four overs while Richardson, O’Reilly and Delany ended with one wicket each.
Ireland had fancied their chances of chasing 146, having a “nothing to lose” mind-set. Indian Captain Harmanpreet Kaur with the assistance of former Captain Raj rotated the bowlers and maintained consistency. Clare Shillington, an experienced candidate, and Gabby Lewis, who is relatively new to international cricket, made their way onto the pitch to open the batting. Lewis was the first batter out for an out-of-coloured 9 from 19 balls when she was bowled by Deepti Sharma in the sixth over.
In contrast to India’s 42 runs scored in the first six overs, Ireland managed to score 30 runs. The elegant Shillington crossed 1000 runs in T20 Internationals. She scored a run-a-ball 23 that included three classic boundaries, was out stumped off the bowling of Poonam Yadav. Isobel Joyce, the sister of former Ireland and England men’s cricketer Ed Joyce, and captain Laura Delany were at the crease when Ireland required 80 off the final six overs.
The ultra-fast Indian wicketkeeper, Bhatia continued her extreme glove work behind the stumps when she stumped the Ireland Captain Delany who was beaten for flight off the bowling of Yadav. Joyce was removed for a top-score of 33 in an innings where she never got going, ending with a strike rate of 86. India’s spinners shared the eight Ireland wickets, with Radha Yadav picking up 3-25 in four overs. Deepti Sharma supported with two wickets. India will play Australia in their final group match at Providence Stadium on Saturday, November 17 starting at 11:00h.