Terrific spell from Titas Sadhu helps India win Asian Games gold

Titas Sadhu bowled a terrific spell of 4-1-6-3 while Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues shared an important 73-run stand

Shajin Mohanan S
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India win Asian Games gold in cricket © Getty Images

Harmanpreet Kaur and Co displayed an all-round effort on a slow surface to win gold at the Asian Games Women's Cricket competition on Monday (Sep 25). India beat Sri Lanka by 19 runs in the final at the Zhejiang University of Technology Cricket Field thanks to a three-wicket haul from young pacer Titas Sadhu. Earlier Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues put in an important 73-run stand for the second wicket to help India to a competitive total of 116.

Slow and steady from India

Opting to bat first after Harmanpreet won the toss in her 100th T20I as the India captain on a surface that offered no pace for the batters, India lost Shafali Verma early. Mandhana and Rodrigues were patient to start with and the duo opted to go after the bowling only when they erred in line or length. 

However, the southpaw ended the power play strongly with a four and six off left-arm spinner Sugandika Kumari. With Rodrigues unleashing her drives through the off-side and sweeps, India reached 59 at the half-way stage.

The pair hit three more boundaries in the next five overs while also rotating the strike with Rodrigues pushing Mandhana for some quick running. In the 15th over, Sri Lanka fought back with the big wicket of the left-hander as Mandhana fell on 46 off 45 balls - the highest individual score of the match.

Although Richa Ghosh started with a six, India began losing wickets in quick succession in pursuit of big hits on a surface that wasn't conducive to it. Rodrigues tried to stay at one end even as India went from 89 for 1 to 108 for 5. 

Eventually when Rodrigues fell for a well-made 42 off 40 balls, India finished on 116 for 7 from their stipulated 20 overs.

Super Sadhu

Despite the conditions, India needed some early wickets to defend their total and they were also wary of the threat opposing captain Chamari Athapaththu possesed. It seemed like Athapaththu could take away the game from India quickly when she went after Deepti Sharma in the opening over.

However, Harmanpreet was quick to make the changes and brought on young Sadhu from the same end and India were rewarded immediately with Anushka Sanjeewani chipping one straight to Harmanpreet at mid-off. Sadhu then went throught the defence of Vishmi Gunaratne to end the over with a double-wicket maiden.

The 18-year-old didn't stop there and she got the big fish Athapaththu in her second over to leave Sri Lanka reeling at 14 for 3 in the fifth over. Although Hasini Perera and Nilakshi de Silva added 36 runs from there, it looked like an uphill task for the island nation.

Just as Perera was starting to look threatening with a four and a six off Rajeshwari Gayakwad, she hit one straight to the throat of Pooja Vastrakar at deep mid-wicket. Oshadi Ranasinghe and de Silva tried their best, but they couldn't muster enough power against the spinners especially against the leg spin of Devika Vaidya.

With Sri Lanka needing 39 from the last four overs, Harmanpreet decided to bowl out her key fast bowlers and Vastrakar struck immediately with the wicket of de Silva in the 17th over. At the other end, Sadhu finished with enviable figures of 3 for 6 from her four overs.

From there, it was too much for the Lankan lower-order against India's spinners and they eventually finished on 97 for 8 from the 20 overs with Gayakwad taking a wicket with the penultimate ball. Once the last ball was bowled, India started the celebrations as they made their way to podium with the gold medal in their maiden appearance at the games.

Brief Scores: India 116/7 in 20 overs (Smriti Mandhana 46, Jemimah Rodrigues 42; Udeshika Prabodhani 2/16, Inoka Ranaweera 2/21) beat Sri Lanka 97/8 in 20 overs (Hasini Perera 25; Titas Sadhu 3/6, Rajeshwari Gayakwad 2/20) by 19 runs