India’s ace batswoman – Mithali Raj once again showed her class and elegance as she powered the women in blue to an easy seven-wicket victory over arch-rivals Pakistan in the ICC Women’s World T20 on Sunday. Chasing a tricky 134 to win, Mithali scored an aggressive half-century to anchor India’s second straight victory with six balls to spare in the showpiece tournament underway in the Caribbean islands. Mithali’s knock of 56 off 47 balls included seven boundaries in the Group B match which was marred by unprecedented docking of 10 penalty runs on Pakistan.
Previous game centurion and captain Harmanpreet Kaur and Veda Krishnamurthy remained not out on 14 and 8 respectively. With the win, India (with four points) made a big step towards making it to the semifinals from the five-team Group B. Two teams each from the two groups qualify for the semifinals.
Things didn’t go as planned for the women in green as the Indians were gifted 10 runs on their total even before the first ball was being bowled. Pakistan were docked five-run penalty twice during their innings on account of their batswomen running on the danger area of the pitch during their innings.
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Also, this victory has helped India to avenge their narrow 2-run defeat under D/L method against Pakistan in New Delhi in the previous edition of the tournament in 2016. The women in blue made a strong start with openers Raj and Smriti Mandhana (26) finding the boundaries at regular intervals in their 73-run stand from 9.3 overs. Mandhana fell to Bismah Maroof with Omaima Sohail taking a superb catch at the deep square leg.
The 18-year-old Jemimah Rodrigues (16), who scored a half-century in the previous game against New Zealand, seemed to continue from where she left but she played a shot too many and perished in the process, caught and bowled by Nida Dar in the 15th over.
Earlier, Indian bowlers pinned Pakistan down for the most part of their innings before allowing them to wriggle out for 133 for 7. Opting to field after winning the toss, India made a great start with the ball, reducing Pakistan to 30 for 3 in the seventh over.
Pakistan made a fine recovery thanks to half-centuries from Bismah Maroof (53) and Nida Dar (52) as the duo stitched 93 runs for the fourth wicket to take their side to a competitive total.
India also dropped at least three easy catches, which allowed Pakistan to come back into the Group B match. Opening bowler Arundhati Reddy immediately gave India the breakthrough by having Ayesha Zafar caught at the slips by Veda Krishnamurthy for nought in the final delivery of the first over.
Pakistan were yet to open an account then and they could have been in a worse situation had Smriti Mandhana not dropped captain Javeria Khan in the third over. But two run-outs in the space of three overs gave India the upper hand. First an outstanding direct throw from 18-year old Jemimah Rodrigues sent Umaima Sohail back to the pavilion in the fourth over while captain Javeria witnessed the same fate in the seventh over after a mixed-up.
Pakistan were on the ropes but India allowed them to gain grounds by having three dropped catches. All the three were regulation catches. Veda Krishnamurthy dropped Nida Dar while on 15 in the 11th over. Poonam Yadav dropped the same batswoman in the 13th over when she was on 23. The next over, Poonam made a mess of a Bismah Maroof skier as she completely misjudged the trajectory of the ball.
Pakistan were still not out of the woods as they could only reach 53 for 3 at the half-way stage but the sloppy Indian fielding allowed their two batswomen Dar and Maroof to gain in confidence.
The Pakistani duo began to hit boundaries at regular intervals and both reached to their fifties towards the end of the innings. Maroof was the first to reach to her fifty in the 17th over while Dar did the same in the next over.
But both were out in the same 19th over in the space of three balls with Dayalan Hemalatha picking the two wickets. Poonam Yadav then scalped two Pakistani wickets in the final over — that of Aliya Riaz (4) and Sana Mir (0).