Indian team is through to the semifinals of the 6th edition of ICC Women’s T20 World Cup after winning comprehensively against Ireland by 52 runs. It’s also their first semi-final qualification after 2010 event. Another patient fifty by Mithali Raj which includes a record 7th 50+ partnership in T20Is with Smriti Mandhana helped India to put on a decent total before the brilliance of the Indian spinners came to the foray.
Indian spinners bowled exceptionally well on these spinner friendly conditions and restricted Ireland to a mere total of 93. Radha Yadav was the pick of the bowlers for India. Poonam Yadav, Deepti Sharma, and Harmanpreet Kaur combinedly conceded only 39 runs in the 11 overs they bowled and also picked up 4 wickets. Taniya Bhatia, who effected 3 stumpings in the match became the player with most stumpings for India surpassing Sulakshana Naik (21).
In a match where a win would guarantee a place in the semi-finals, after inviting to bat, Indian openers Smriti Mandhana and Mithali Raj started tentatively and could not get boundaries at will. However, the Ireland bowlers helped the cause by bowling some bad balls at the end of the over. Out of first 12 overs, 6 were ended with a boundary which is clearly due to the lapse of concentration by the inexperienced Irish bowling attack. Both Mandhana and Raj failed to score at a brisk pace and on the other hand, Irish bowlers read the pitch well and bowled with plenty of variations.
Mandhana was dismissed for 33 by an excellent slower ball by Kim Garth and Jemimah Rodrigues who started scored three boundaries with impeccable timing could not capitalize on the start and was stumped off the bowling of Delany. Harmanpreet Kaur came to the crease and hit a big six before getting out for a brilliant catch at the boundary. At a stage, India were 103/1 off 14 overs and looked that they are in for a big total. However, the Ireland bowlers took wickets at regular intervals and didn’t allow Indian batters to settle. Ireland bowled brilliantly at the death overs and conceded only 27 runs in last 4 overs of Indian innings.
Yet again, Mithali Raj was the pick of the batters for India and scored a patient and an anchoring fifty on a pitch which assisted spinners right from the first over of the match. Kim Garth was the pick of the Irish bowlers who took two wickets. Richardson, O’Reilly, Delany also chipped in with one wicket each. India put up a score of 145/6 in their 20 overs which looked enough against this Irish batting line up under these conditions.
Chasing a stiff target of 146, Ireland openers could not accelerate and were kept to a score of 43/2 in first 10 overs which meant the required run rate crept up to 10.3 runs per over. Mansi Joshi, who was replaced in place of Arundhati Reddy bowled exceptionally well in the power play with 12 dot balls which also included a maiden over. Irish veteran Shillington, who became the first woman to score 1000 T20I runs played some good shots but could not capitalize on the start and yet again got out in the 20s.
Indian spinners bowled exceptionally well and didn’t give any freebies to the Irish batters and they were thoroughly tested against this top quality Indian spin bowling line-up which ensured that they never stood a chance to win the match. India will play their final group match against Australia who have also qualified for the semi-finals from Group B.