India have booked their place in the semi-finals of this year’s Women’s T20I World Cup in South Africa.
They beat Ireland in a rain-affected match to ensure that they will progress from Group Two, alongside England, with Smriti Mandhana again the star for them with a swashbuckling 87.
Now India find themselves of rooting for their old enemy Pakistan, when they play England.
Only if Pakistan beat England, and, do so heavily, will India avoid the defending champions, and pre-tournament favourites, Australia, in the semi-finals, who, so far, have looked almost unbeatable in this tournament.
India had begun their campaign by beating Pakistan by seven wickets with an over to spare, a comfortable enough victory in the end, although Pakistan were on top at one stage until some loose bowling in the death overs let their opponents off the hook.
They followed that up by defeating the West Indies by six wickets, setting up what would prove to be the crunch match in the group against England.
India won the toss and invited England to bat first and Renuka Singh, the ICC Emerging Player of the Year, was inspired with the ball, taking 5 – 15, in her 4 overs. However, England had their own ICC award winner in Nat Sciver-Brunt – both the ICC Player and ODI Player of the Year – and she scored a half-century as England posted 151/7 from their 20 overs.
Despite a half-century from Mandhana, and an unbeaten 47 from Richa Ghosh, India fell 11 runs short, which made the match against Ireland a must-win game, with England having already secured their semi-final berth.
Mandhana rides her luck
It has been quite a few weeks for Mandhana. First she was sold for a record price in the auction for the forthcoming Indian women’s T20 franchise league. Then it was announced she had been retained by her Hundred franchise, Southern Brave, for the coming 2023 season.
And, on the field, she followed up her half-century against England, with a career best innings against Ireland, although she certainly rode her luck.
She was dropped no less than four times, and took full advantage by making 87 off 56 balls, including 9 fours and three sixes, all hit over deep mid-on and helped by a strong wind.
At one stage a century looked on the cards for the left-hander, but she was out in the 19th over, going for one big hit too many.
Her efforts helped her side reach 155/6 from their allocated overs.
In reply, Ireland had reached 54/2 in the ninth over, when the rain arrived and forced the abandonment of the match. India were adjudged the winners by 5 wins according to the DLS (Duckworth/Lewis/Sterne) methodology.
Not the ideal way to win, but under the circumstances, India will take it.
What it means
India have now completed their group games and are second behind England, who still have their final match to play against Pakistan. However, because the English have a much better Net Run Rate, India need Pakistan to beat the English, and by a big margin, if they are to top the group.
That also certainly means that India will be playing Australia in the first semi-final in Cape Town on Thursday, in what will be a repeat of the 2020 final.
Given the dominant form that the Australians have been in during their time in South Africa, it is a match that India will face with a fair degree of trepidation.
Who else might qualify
There is still one semi-final place open, and that is to decide who accompanies Australia from Group One.
New Zealand are in pole position, having beaten Sri Lanka in their final match to overhaul them in the table on Net Run Rate, the two having the same number of points.
However, the hosts, South Africa, can still overtake them. They began the competition with a shock defeat to Sri Lanka, and also lost to Australia. However, they have since recovered to a position that, if they can beat Bangladesh in their final match, and do so by a big enough victory, then they could overtake New Zealand on Net Run Rate.
It looks like then it will be England versus either New Zealand or England in the other semi-final.\
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