Women’s Asia Cup 2022: India at the doorstep of Glory
By Indraneel Chakrabarty: The Indian Women’s T20 contingent has secured a semi-final in the ongoing Women’s Asia Cup (T2OI) 2022. After a woeful show against Pakistan on the field, the Indian side put up an impressively improved display in a match where run-scoring appeared to be challenging, handing Bangladesh a 59-run defeat defending 159 runs, in their fourth group-stage fixture in Sylhet on October 8, Saturday. Thus avenging their defeat to Bangladesh in the 2018 Asia Cup final. The team effort was brilliantly led by Shafali Verma’s sparkle of all-around fireworks – 55(44) & 2/10.
India became the first team to stake its claim for a semi-final berth, with Harmanpreet Kaur’s side focused on ensuring no further hiccups in their Asia Cup campaign in Bangladesh. Smriti Mandhana led the side on Saturday instead of Harmanpreet Kaur, who rested due to a niggle. The opening duo of Smriti and Shafali feasting on the Bangladesh attack thundered their way to a 96-run 1st-wicket stand in a mere 12 overs.
Post Smriti’s run-out, missing out on a classy fifty painstakingly by five runs, Shafali continued her plunder, smashing two sixes and five boundaries for her 55 runs of 44 balls. Shafali Verma, who was in a crunch situation after being dropped against Pakistan on Friday, proved her mettle. On the other hand, Jemimah Rodrigues continued her silken form and blasted a quick-silver 35 of 24 balls. India’s greenhorn middle-order, though, had a forgettable outing.
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Bangladesh could only respond with 100/7 at the end of their 20 over without offering a serious challenge to the Women in Blue. Bagging 8 points from five games, India is table-toppers, with only a match for the round-robin stage. Having never chased anything beyond 142 in their T20I history, Bangladesh tried but could not grab the initiative against India’s rock-solid bowling attack, which kept a tight check on the second innings proceedings. Unable to notch up even 50 runs in their first ten overs, gunning for over 110 runs in the last ten proved simply too daunting for the host nation.
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With the other three semi-final berths still open, the scales seem heavily tilted in favour of Asian giants Pakistan and Sri Lanka per the points table, with Thailand emerging as a dark horse to watch out for.