Happy to have qualified for semis: Harmanpreet Kaur

Mithali Raj

Chennai: Indian spinners produced yet another controlled performance to clinch a semi-final berth with a comfortable 52-run victory against Ireland in a group league encounter of the ICC Women’s World T20 Thursday.

After managing 145 for 6 on a slow track, Indian spinners maintained a tight leash on the Irish women restricting them to 93 for 8 in 20 overs. With their third win, India with six points were assured of a last-four spot along with Australia (6 points from 3 games).

Promoted to open the batting, veteran Mithali (51 off 56 balls) added 67 runs in 10 overs with Smriti Mandhana (33, 29 balls) but the innings never gained required momentum on a track that remained a bit damp due to overnight showers.

Mithali, however, never got going despite hitting four boundaries and a six. Having effectively scored 22 off five deliveries, Mithali scored another 21 off 51 balls. Her failure to rotate the strike did affect the momentum once Mandhana was bowled by medium pacer Kim Garth, trying a wild slog. But as wickets fell at one end, Mithali couldn’t shift gears at the other end. She was finally out in the 19th over, deceived by a slower delivery from Garth.

Mithali Raj, adjudged the player of the match, said, “The wicket was quite challenging. It was slow and soft. My partnership with Smriti was very crucial. Hopefully, we will get a better wicket in the next game.”

She also said the young team is very vibrant and has got better. “This team has definitely improved a lot from the last World Cup. There are a lot of young girls in the team and they want to change the approach in T20s, and I definitely want them to win the World Cup. You are prepared for 2-3 shots for one delivery and you try and innovate your game to suit the format, you only need to clear the infield in the powerplay to get boundaries and it’s something I’ve worked on and I’m sure that I’ll keep scoring runs for India,” she said.

The Indian bowlers and fielders put up an antagonistic show compared to their batters. They were bang on with their plans and despite not bowling their opponents out, they restricted them to 93. The spinners did the bulk of the work and ensured Ireland never stood a chance even to give India a minor scare.

The Indian skipper said despite qualifying, there are still things to improve in the middle. “Happy that we have qualified for the semis. There are still a few things that we need to sit down and talk about. It is a short format. We need to improve on our batting and bowling also. We did not bat according to our plan and the same with our bowling. We have to be aggressive all the time if you have to win against Australia,” she said.

Laura Delany, Ireland captain, said, “I am delighted how we approached the game. To restrict India to 145, who scored 195 against New Zealand, was a huge plus for us. Over the last few days, our batting has been exposed at the top-level. A lot of players and our families, over the course of this tournament, have been supportive of us.”