A super Sunday saw India outplay Pakistan by eight wickets to record its first win in Women’s Twenty20 cricket at the ongoing Commonwealth Games.
Although a spell of rain toyed with the crowd’s emotions, it finally relented at around 10:45 AM BST. The start was delayed by a further hour – the match reduced to 18 overs a side, with a truncated PowerPlay of five overs. Three bowlers were allowed to bowl a maximum of four overs.
India, asked to field first, saw Renuka Singh Thakur offering another fiery start with a maiden over. She teased the left-handed Muneeba Ali (32, 30b, 3×4, 1×6) with some outswingers. Meghna Singh struck early as Pakistan lost its first wicket with no runs on the board, Iram Javed giving in to the temptation of fishing for a delivery shaping away from her.
Sneh Rana (4-0-15-2) broke the fifty-run stand between Bismah Maroof and Muneeba, trapping the opposition skipper plumb in front for 17. And just when Muneeba seemed to be settling down, Rana sent her back to the hut.
“We are doing good, and the win gives us a lot of confidence going into the next match. A game against Pakistan is special because the crowd these games draw,” Rana said after the match.
Ayesha Naseem, hoping to stitch a valuable stand with Omaima Sohail, lost her wicket cheaply as well, miscuing one to the ever-athletic Jemimah Rodrigues at deep midwicket.
Later Aliya Riaz left Omaima stranded, refusing to take a single after initially looking to be in for it. Aliya was later found short of the crease herself, a direct hit from Meghna at mid-off brought an end to her stay.
Pakistan failed to reach the three-figure mark, losing its last five wickets in eight balls to finish on 99 in 18 overs.
Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana (63 n.o; 42b, 8×4, 3×6), opening the Indian innings, were evidently in a hurry to head back to the athletes’ village as they rocketed off the blocks to cross half the target with a delivery left in the PowerPlay. The highlight of the innings was the six that Shafali carted over long-on off Anam Amin’s bowling in the fourth over.
“Today was one of those days, when I seemed to be connecting each and every shot. The ball was coming on nicely and I am happy I contributed to the win,” Mandhana said.
With Shafali caught behind for a nine-ball 16, Sabbhineni Meghana and Mandhana kept the crowd entertained, playing quality shots all around the park. Meghana, however, fell for 14 while trying to go for the glory shot. When Jemimah Rodrigues walked in, there wasn’t much left to do. Mandhana, having scored a fifty off 31 balls, scored the winning runs.