India marched into the semifinals of the ICC World T20 with their third straight win of the tournament after beating Ireland by 52 runs. They join Australia as the second team from Group B to qualify for the knockouts.
Asked to bat first on a pitch that had seen some rain earlier, India were put on course by a 67-run opening stand between Mithali Raj and Smriti Mandhana. Each playing to their strengths, they found a good mix of attack and defense for a while with Mandhana playing the aggressor and looking for the boundaries. After a very watchful start, Mithali too slowly found her touch after she was dropped on 3. A lofted six against offspinner Eimear Richardson in the fifth over was the first sign of Mithali trying to break the shackles. The partnership though was broken as the need to up the ante mounted. Mandhana attacking from the outset, had hit a 29-ball 33 before missing a slower one from Kim Garth at the halfway mark.
Mithali, lacking in the power game did make up in finesse, striking some delectable drives and glides but her strike-rate of less than 100 meant that the onus of upping the ante was always at the other end.
Jemimah Rodrigues managed to do the job in her 11-ball stay, hitting 18 before being stumped. Harmanpreet Kaur, lasted only three balls, hitting a six and then a full toss to deep cover off Richardson while Veda Krishnamurthy was bowled by a peach of a yorker by 18-year old Lucy O’Reilly.
Meanwhile, Mithali got to her second consecutive fifty, off 54 balls, but India were still some way away from a total of comfort. She finally edged one trying to make room to drive and fell in the penultimate over as India finished with 145, a total was 25 fewer than what they were targeting according to Smriti, who mentioned being a little disappointed to the broadcasters at the halfway stage.
With Ireland’s batting power centered at the top, the first few overs were going to be of great importance for India in their defense of a middling total. Pacer Mansi Joshi who was brought in for this game set the perfect tone for their defense in her three-over opening spell, conceding just 12 runs. Gaby Lewis, tied down by Mansi Joshi who bowled a maiden over to her, fell to the off spin of Deepti Sharma in the sixth over, leaving her partner Clare Shillington under more pressure.
India’s spinners ensured that the pressure wasn’t let off, tying the batters down with their slowness through the air and getting wickets whenever there was an attempt to improvise by Ireland’s batters. With Shillington falling to Poonam Yadav in the ninth over, and the asking rate always on the upward curve, the total eventually proved to be too many for Ireland. They lost wickets in a clump towards the end, losing five wickets for 9 runs as India marched into the semi-final of the World T20 for the third time overall, and for the first time since 2010.
Brief Scores: India Women 145/6 (Mithali Raj 51, Smriti Mandhana 33) beat Ireland Women 93/8 (Isobel Joyce 33; Radha Yadav 3-25) by 52 runs.
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