India’s Shafali Verma plays a shot as Pakistan’s wicketkeeper Muneeba Ali looks on during their T20 women’s World Cup match in Cape Town on Sunday. AFP
Fantastic unbeaten knocks by Jemimah Rodrigues (53 not out off 38) and Richa Ghosh (31 not out off 20) led India to an impressive seven-wicket win over arch-rivals Pakistan in their opening match of Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 at Newlands Cricket Ground, here on Sunday.
Riding on brilliant performances by Bismah Maroof (68 not out off 55) and Ayesha Naseem (43 not out off 25), Pakistan posted a competitive total of 149-4 in stipulated 20 overs.
Chasing 150, Shafali Verma was partnered by Yastika Bhatia for India at the top with Smriti Mandhana out injured. The duo put on 38 for the opening wicket before Yastike was dismissed by Sadia Iqbal in the final over of the Powerplay.
Verma and Jemimah Rodrigues rebuilt, but Pakistan struck in the 10th over when Sidra Amin pulled off a stunning catch close to the ropes to send back Verma. While Harmanpreet Kaur and Jemimah fought back for a bit, Nashra Sandhu sent back Kaur in the 14th over to give Pakistan a massive boost.
But, the pair of Jemimah and Richa took over from there and led India’s fight in the run chase. They had a perfect combination of aggression and touch play for the best part of their innings to put pressure on Pakistan.
Richa, who won the Under-19 World Cup last month decided to free her arms in the 18th over, hitting medium pacer Aiman Anwer for three successive fours, to bring the equation down to 14 off 12.
At the other end, Rodrigues also found her range and she pulled, swept and then fittingly hit the winning runs by hitting a boundary through extra cover, which also brought up her half-century as India gunned down 150 with an over to spare.
Earlier, Pakistan, who won the toss and opted to bat first, lost opener Javeria Khan to Deepti Sharma in the second over.
Bismah Maroof and Muneeba Ali took the attack to Deepti to help Pakistan to 39/1 at the end of the Powerplay, their highest against India in the first six overs in women’s T20Is.
However, Radha Yadav struck soon after with the wicket of Muneeba and Pooja Vastrakar sent back Nida Dar for a duck to put India back on top. The in-form Sidra Amin joined Maroof in the middle and the duo put on 25 for the fourth wicket before a freak dismissal saw Amin dismissed by Radha.
Ayesha Naseem’s entry added impetus to Pakistan’s innings as she raced off the blocks with some lusty blows. Maroof held one end up as Ayesha charged from the other to lift Pakistan past the 100-run mark in the 16th over.
Maroof completed her fifty soon after as the duo put on a partnership that pushed India onto the back foot. The unbeaten 81-run stand helped Pakistan to 149/4 at the end of 20 overs. The last five overs yielded 58 runs as Pakistan gave India a stiff target.
Brief scores: Pakistan Women 149-4 in 20 Overs (Bismah Maroof 68 not out, Ayesha Naseem 43 not out; Radha Yadav 2/21) lost to India Women 151-3 in 19 Overs (Jemimah Rodrigues 53 not out, Richa Ghosh 31 not out; Nashra Sandhu 2/15) by 7 wickets.
Indo-Asian News Service