INDIA INTO SEMI-FINALS: Smriti ’s stunning 87 helps team beat Ireland
GQEBERHA: Vice-captain Smriti Mandhana stood out with a career-best 56-ball 87 as India entered the semi-finals of the Women’s T20 World Cup with a five-run win over Ireland in the rain-affected match here on Monday.
On a surface that was far from ideal for batting and where most struggled to force the pace, Mandhana led by example with nine delectable fours and three sixes to help India reach 155 for six. In reply, Ireland got off to a disastrous start as opener Amy Hunter (1) was run out before Renuka Singh Thakur (1/10) bowled Orla Prendergast for nought.
After reeling at 2/1 in the very first over, Ireland recovered to reach 54 for two in the ninth over, when the heavens opened up and forced the players inside. Play did not resume thereafter. At that point, Ireland needed need 102 runs in 70 balls and was five runs behind the Duckworth/Lewis par score of 59, paving the way for India’s victory.
When the match was interrupted, Gaby Lewis and skipper Laura Delany were batting on 32 and 17 respectively. Earlier, opting to bat after skipper Harmanpreet Kaur won the toss, India was off to a fine start with the opening duo of Mandhana and Shafali Verma (24) putting on 62 runs in just under 10 overs at St George’s Park.
But, Shafali once again got out after getting a start, caught by Hunter off the bowling of Delany (3/33), who introduced herself into the attack after the frontline bowlers failed to get the team a breakthrough. Harmanpreet (13) joined Mandhana in the middle, and the two looked to build a partnership.
The slow nature of the track notwithstanding, Mandhana maintained an excellent strike-rate and reached her half-century in style, hitting leg-spinner Cara Murray for a six over deep mid-wicket. Mandhana was lucky to have survived a scare just before getting to her fifty as Arlene Kelly could not complete a catch after the opening batter top-edged a tossed-up delivery from Murray towards mid-wicket.
Mandhana then struck two successive fours off Georgina Dempsey, before sending Delany over the cow-corner region for a maximum. Ireland came back with the wickets of Harmanpreet and Richa Ghosh (0) in successive balls, but Mandhana continued to attack and hit two more boundaries off Kelly. She then gave the same treatment to Delany, striking her for a four and a six to help India inch towards 150.
A century was on the cards, but Mandhana’s brilliant innings came to an end as she tried to take the aerial route. Jemimah Rodrigues struck two fours in the final over, before getting out in the last ball of the India innings for a 12-ball 19.
BRIEF SCORES: India Women 155/6 in 20 overs (S Mandhana 87, L Delany 3/33) bt Ireland Women 54/2 in 8.2 overs via the DLS method
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