A beautifully judged innings by Jemimah Rodrigues helped India make a winning start to their campaign in the Women’s T20I World Cup in South Africa. She made an unbeaten half-century and shared a stand with Richa Ghosh that helped take her side over the line, with the odds at one stage favouring the visitors.
Pakistan were left frustrated after making their highest ever score in this format against their opponents and were seemingly in control of their destiny at one stage. They also may argue that their cause was not helped by an umpiring blunder.
India suffered a setback before a ball was bowled with the news that opener and vice-captain Smriti Mandhana was ruled out of the match with a finger injury. However, with scans revealing that there was no fracture, and she is expected to be fit for the rest of the tournament.
There were better tidings concerning captain Harmanpreet Kaur, who was passed fit to play after suffering from a minor shoulder injury after the recent tri-nation series with South Africa and the West Indies.
Pakistan recover from slow start
Pakistan won the toss and batted first, but they started slowly against accurate Indian bowling with slow left-armed spinner Radha Yadav exercising good control for her side and picking up a couple of wickets.
When Pooja Vastrakar removed the dangerous Nida Dar – the player known as Lady Boom because of her power hitting – Pakistan were 43/3.
However, captain Bismah Maroof led from the front, adding 25 for the fourth wicket with Sidra Ameen. And when the latter fell to Radha, she shared an unbeaten partnership of 81 with Ayesha Naseem.
That helped their side reach the highly competitive score of 149/4 from their 20 overs, their highest ever score against India. Maroof was 68 not out at the end, having hit 7 fours, whilst Naseem was undefeated on 43, with 2 sixes and 2 fours to her name.
Yadav was the best of the Indian bowlers with 2 – 21.
In the absence of Mandhana, it was Yastika Bhatia that opened the Indian innings with Shafali Verma, and the pair made a solid start, putting on 38 for the first wicket until Bhatia was dismissed for 17.
That brought Rodrigues to the crease to join Verma and the pair added 27 more, until Verma’s innings came to an end when she had made 33, caught off the bowling of Nashra Sandhu.
Kaur was next in and she and Rodrigues put on 28 before the skipper became another victim of Sandhu.
Ghosh joined Rodrigues in the middle. Butwith the required run rate edging up, it began to look as if India were heading for defeat.
But loose bowling in the death overs was to cost Pakistan dear. They gave the Indian pair too many opportunities to find the boundary, and effectively let them off the hook.
In the end, India got home with an over to spare. Rodrigues was 53 not out at the end, having hit 8 fours, whilst her partner Ghosh was undefeated on 31, having struck 5 fours.
Pakistan can feel a little hard done by after a major umpiring blunder during the Indian innings.
In the seventh over, Dar was bowling her second over of spin and ended up bowling seven not six deliveries. To make matters worse for her side, Rodrigues hit the seventh ball to the boundary for four.
It was later clarified that there is no provision in the laws of the game for such errors to be rectified.
As there was no signal that there had been a no ball in the course of the over, questions must be asked how the officials had made such a mistake. Given the high public profile of this tournament and this match in particular, it seems a minimum requirement that those asked of officiate it should practice a basic degree of competence.
That four runs could have had a significant impact on the outcome of the match.
The two sides are next up in action on Wednesday, with both matches again taking place in Cape Town.
In the later game, Pakistan will take on Ireland, whilst earlier India will be facing the West Indies, who suffered a comprehensive defeat in their opening World Cup match – losing by 7 wickets inside 15 overs to the other team in Group 2, England.
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