Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur started the new international season with a smashing half-century as the Indian women’s team cantered to a seven-wicket victory over Bangladesh in the opening T20 International in Mirpur on Sunday. Opting to bowl, the Indian spinners used the conditions to their advantage and restricted Bangladesh to a meager 114 for 5. In reply, Harmanpreet (54 not out 35 balls) and her deputy Smriti Mandhana (38 off 34 balls) added 70 runs for the third wicket to chase down the target in just 16.2 overs.
The skipper hit six boundaries and two sixes and made the best use of the two reprieves that she got off left-arm spinner Nahida Akter’s bowling.
Mandhana was the pace-setter for India as she hit some delectable boundaries, five of them in all, including a rasping square cut-off seamer Marufa Akter and an inside-out lofted cover drive. They were shots out of the top drawer.
This was after the Indian bowlers set it up perfectly for the batters, who had to hardly break a sweat while chasing down an easy target.
The spin attack, led by the experienced Deepti Sharma (0/14 in 4 overs), along with debutants — slow left-arm orthodox Anusha Bareddy (0/24 in 4 overs) and off-break bowler Minnu Manni (1/21 in 3 overs) — executed skipper Harmanpreet Kaur’s plan of bowling on one side of the wicket perfectly.
Leg-spinner Shafali Verma (1/18 in 3 overs) was also mostly on target, save a six that top-scorer Sorna Akhtar (28 off 28 balls) hit off her bowling.
The idea was to pack the off-side field with five fielders and bowl on the fourth or fifth off-stump line and the Bangladeshi batters, mostly right-handers, found it difficult to pierce the cordon.
This was after debutant Mani got her maiden wicket when Shamima Sultana (17), after taking the office for a six, couldn’t connect her slog sweep and Jemimah Rodrigues took a smart catch at square leg.
Pooja Vastrakar then softened Shathi Rani (22) with a short ball, before castling her with a perfect fuller delivery.
The experienced Nigar Sultana (2) was run-out and Shafali tossed one up to get rid of Shobhana Mostary (23 off 33 balls), who was getting increasingly frustrated.
In fact, Bangladesh consumed as many as 62 dot balls which are more than half of the innings, with only eight fours and three sixes in all. Two of those hits by Sorna ensured that the hosts crossed the 100-run mark.
When India started the chase, Shafali paid the price for her lack of footwork as she was adjudged plumb in front while being rooted to the crease.
Rodrigues was played on when she tried to cut an off-break from Sultana Khatun.
However, once Harmanpreet and Mandhana joined forces, there was hardly any concern for the winning team.
/ 3 years ago
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