It’s the Indian bowlers again who stole the limelight when spinner Radha Yadav tore apart the rival batting line up with a career-best four-wicket haul to snatch a well-deserved victory from the hands of Sri Lanka in the fourth group stage match of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Melbourne on Saturday (February 29).
The left-arm spinner ran through the Sri Lankan batting line-up, claiming the prized scalp of skipper Chamari Atapattu, in the process to help India restrict the Islanders to a modest 113 for nine.
“I was just thinking of bowling stump to stump and tried to keep it simple. We did well as a bowling unit. And we need to keep this momentum going forward. Yeah, she’s (Poonam) a legend,” said Radha in a post-match interview.
Having secured a semifinal place after their previous victories over defending champions Australia, Bangladesh and New Zealand, the Indian women’s cricket team now has a bigger reason to smile as they enter semis unbeaten at 4-0.
During the Indian innings, it was the 16-year-old Shafali Verma’s aggressive knock that laid the foundation of the run chase.
Shafali smashed a 34-ball 47 before she got run-out in the 11th over. However, the damage she wanted had been done by then and the Indian middle-order batters – Jemimah Rodrigues and Deepti Sharma – took the squad over the line in the 15th over.
It was then India’s clinical performance in this tournament took the right way and turned the final group stage contest into a one-sided game.
Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, who has not been in her best form in the tournament so far, said, “It’s really important to keep the momentum when you are winning games. You really work hard, so you can’t afford to lose that momentum. You can’t bowl the same pace and lengths on these wickets, so you need to keep rotating the bowlers.”
“Today I tried to be positive and got a few boundaries. In the upcoming games, I’ll try to give my best. Shafali is someone who loves to play big shots, and we don’t want to stop her. She should continue doing the same and she should continue enjoying her game,” she added.
Opting to bat, Sri Lanka were dealt an early blow when opener Umesha Thimashini (2) tried to go for a big shot off a Deepti Sharma delivery but was caught by Rajeshwari Gayakwad in the third over.
Skipper Chamari Athapaththu (33), who has shined throughout the tournament, continued to attack, hitting five fours and a six. She stitched a 30-run partnership with Harshitha Madavi (12).
“I think it wasn’t a enough score to defend on this wicket. We dropped a few chances, especially that of Shafali. I gave a good start, but unfortunately I got out. If I would have stayed there, we might have scored 150-plus. We’ll try to play positive cricket and play to our potential against Bangladesh,” Athapaththu said.
However, left-arm spinner Gayakwad tightened the screws in the eighth over, bowling a wicket maiden as she dismissed Madavi.
The introduction of Radha in the ninth over by Harmanpreet Kaur worked superbly as immediately after hitting a six over deep wicket the Sri Lankan captain was caught at square leg.
Sri Lanka then suffered a batting collapse as Radha accounted for Hansima Karunaratne (7) and Hasini Perera (7) in her next. She also dismissed wicket-keeper Anushka Sanjeewani (1).
Besides Radha, Gayakwad (2/18) picked up two wickets while Deepti, Shikha Pandey, and Poonam Yadav took one wicket each.
(With inputs from agencies)