BAN v IND: Renuka Singh Thakur routs Bangladesh in series opener

Renuka Singh Thakur finished with figures of 4 for 18 from her spell of four overs

Pranav Mathur
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Renuka Singh Thakur

Renuka Singh Thakur in action © Getty Images

India started the five-match T20I series against the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2024 host with a convincing 44-run win at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium on Sunday (April 28). Renuka Singh Thakur was the star of the show with three wickets to her name.

Opting to bat first, India were greeted by some good fielding and disciplined bowling despite a few dropped catches from the Bangladesh side. Before the match, Nigar Sultana Joty set her team the target of restricting India to within 150 and it was safe to say that the team delivered on that front. After being sent into the field in the first innings, Bangladesh did well to comeback to restrict India to 145 for 7. At one stage, India were looking at a score of excess of 160 with the score reading 100 for two in the 13th over.

Early on, Shafali Verma looked in good touch as she scored a flurry of boundaries from the get go. She took on the pacers and sent them to the boundary with ease. Smriti Mandhana also hit Sultana Khatun for two consecutive boundaries after being dropped while trying to clear the 30-yard circle. But Mandhana’s party was soon disrupted in the form of Fariha Trisna, as she tried to attack the left-arm pacer only to chop the ball onto the stumps.

The early breakthrough for Bangladesh didn’t stop India from constantly keeping the scoreboard moving by dealing in boundaries and explosive shots. Even though she started slowly, Yastika Bhatia matched Shafali’s onslaught with some trademark sweep shots, constantly seeing the spinners to the boundary.

However, Shafali too was dropped in the sixth over on 22. The powerplay saw good cricket from both sides with the score amounting to 39 for the loss of one wicket. Bhatia and Shafali put up a partnership of 43 runs in 32 balls before the latter fell victim to the leg spin of Rabeya Khan.

Bhatia and Harmanpreet Kaur kept the boundary count ticking. By the time their valuable partnership came to an end with Harmanpreet getting trapped in front of the stumps by Fahima Khatun, they added 45 runs for the third wicket.

That wicket proved to be the catalyst of India’s downfall in the first innings as Bhatia soon followed her captain at the hands of Rabeya. Debutant Sajana Sajeevan became the spinner's next victim and the youngster finished her quota of four overs by taking three wickets while conceding only 23 runs.

The death overs were vital for India to accelerate and put up runs on the board, but the Bangladesh fielders supported the bowlers really well by stopping crucial runs, letting women in blue to score only 38 runs in the last five overs.

Richa Ghosh played a decent cameo of 23 runs in 17 balls, but the pressure of scoring got to her as the wickets kept tumbling in front of her, causing her to slog the ball straight to long-on in the last over. Marufa Akter ended the innings by conceding only two runs while picking up the wickets of Ghosh and Pooja Vastrakar.

In the chase, it was imperative for Indian bowlers to give them a good start and they did not disappoint. Renuka, like she does most of the time for India, trapped opener Dilara Akter in front of the wicket on the  third ball of the opening over and then knocked out the stumps of Sobhana Mostary in the fifth over.

Bangladesh batters struggled to get a move on and they were able to hit only three boundaries in the powerplay. Deepti Sharma joined Renuka in the wicket’s column as she got the better of Murshida Khatun in the final over of the powerplay to leave Bangladesh reeling at 29 for three at the end of it.

Bangladesh’s struggles didn’t end there with Vastrakar striking in the first ball after the powerplay with the wicket of Fahima Khatun.

From there, Joty and Shorna Akter’s gritty partnership of 32 runs in 42 balls gave some respectability to the innings. And it came to an end when Shorna tried to accelerate the run rate, only to find the ball falling conveniently into the deep mid-wicket’s hands off Radha Yadav.

With the target already looking out of reach, Bangladesh captain went after Shreyanka Patil in the 15th over with 12 runs, but it was too little too late, with the host still needing 68 runs in the last five overs with only five wickets in hand.

Renuka was rewarded for her accurate spell with another wicket as she caught the toe end of Rabeya’s bat, only for the batter to lob an easy catch at mid-on for substitute fielder Amanjot Kaur.

Amidst all this, Joty reached her half century in the 19th over, but this over also saw the fall of Nahida Akter, who helped Shreyanka join the other wicket-takers. Joty eventually fell in the final over to Vastrakar, Even though Bangladesh went past the three-figure mark, they could never challenge the Indian total.

Brief Scores: India 145/7 in 20 overs (Yastika Bhatia 36, Shafali Verma 31; Rabeya Khan 3/23) beat Bangladesh 101/8 in 20 overs (Nigar Sultana Joty 51; Renuka Singh Thakur 3/18) by 44 runs POTM: Renuka Singh Thakur