Gqeberha (South Africa), February 20
Vice-captain Smriti Mandhana stood out with a career-best 56-ball 87 as India entered the semifinals of the Women’s T20 World Cup with a five-run win over Ireland in a rain-affected match here on Monday.
On a surface that was far from ideal for batting and where most struggled to force the pace, Mandhana led by example with nine delectable fours and three sixes to help India reach 155 for six in the stipulated 20 overs.
In reply, Ireland got off to a disastrous start as opener Amy Hunter (1) was run out before Renuka Singh bowled Orla Prendergast for nought.
Reeling at 2/1 in the very first over, Ireland recovered to reach 54 for two in the ninth over, when the heavens opened up and forced the players inside. Play did not resume thereafter.
At that point, Ireland needed need 102 runs in 70 balls and were five runs behind the Duckworth/Lewis par score of 59, paving the way for India’s victory.
When the game was interrupted, Gaby Lewis and skipper Laura Delany were batting on 32 and 17 respectively.
India are set to take on defending champions Australia in the last four stage.
This is India’s third successive semifinal appearance following the one in 2018 and runners-up finish in 2020.
With the win, last edition’s runners-up India bounced back from the 11-run defeat to England in their previous match.
Earlier, opting to bat after skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (13) won the toss, India were off to a fine start with the opening duo of Mandhana and Shafali Verma putting on 62 runs in just under 10 overs at St George’s Park.
But Shafali once again got out after getting a start, caught by Amy Hunter off the bowling of captain Delany, who introduced herself into the attack after the frontline bowlers failed to get the team a breakthrough.
Harmanpreet joined Mandhana in the middle, and the two looked to build on a partnership. Playing strokes turned out to be difficult on a surface that appeared to be a bit on the slower side.
The slow nature of the wicket notwithstanding, Mandhana maintained an excellent strike rate and reached her half-century in style, hitting leg-spinner Cara Murray for a six over deep mid-wicket.
Mandhana was lucky to have survive a scare just before getting to her fifty, but Arlene Kelly could not complete the catch after the batter top-edged a tossed-up delivery from Murray towards mid-wicket.
Mandhana then struck two successive fours off Georgina Dempsey, before sending Delany over the cow corner for another maximum.
Ireland came back with the wickets of Harmanpreet and Richa Ghosh in successive balls, but Mandhana continued to attack the bowlers and hit two more boundaries off Kelly before giving the same treatment to Delany, striking her for a four and a six to help India inch towards 150.
A century was on the cards, but Mandhana’s brilliant innings came to an end as she tried to take the aerial route.
Jemimah Rodrigues struck two fours in the final over, before getting off in the last ball of the India innings for a 12-ball 19.
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