The Indian team defeated arch-rival Pakistan by 107 runs to kick off their campaign in the ICC Women’s World Cup on Sunday on a smashing note, with the much-anticipated face-off ending in a no-contest. In-form opener Smriti Mandhana, Sneh Rana and Pooja Vastrakar chose to bat after the coin landed in India’s favour, striking useful half-centuries to help their team recover from an early wobble and post 244 for seven in the Bay Oval. The Pakistani team hunted for a tricky target of 245, but fell way short, going all out for 137 in 43 overs, losing its 11th consecutive game against neighboring India in the 50-over format.
Left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad made the star turn with the ball and returned with excellent marks of 4/31 after her full quota of 10 overs. Seasoned pacer Jhulan Goswami threw very well to end the game with impressive figures of 2/29, while there were also two wickets for Rana (2/27), finishing off her fine all-round show.
However, for a start, the Indians came under pressure after opener Shafali Verma was ejected in the third over due to a duck.
A 92-run tie between Mandhana (52 from 75 balls) and Deepti Sharma (40 from 57) helped keep the ship stable.
However, Pakistan came back strong, claiming a flurry of wickets including the scalp of skipper Mithali Raj (9) and her deputy Haramanpreet Kaur (5).
It wasn’t a good outing for Raj with the Willow, but appearing in the Indian jersey on Sunday made the 39-year-old veteran only the third cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar and Javed Miandad to compete in six World Cups and the first woman to complete the feat. reaches.
However, Raj would accept her cheap dismissal while her team achieved its intended outcome.
After Shafali’s early dismissal, the duo of Mandhana and Deepti got together to keep the innings steady at first, then lay a foundation for Rana and Vastrakar to bring their team closer to 250.
Rana (53 not out) and Vastrakar (67) shared a crucial partnership of 122 runs – the highest for seventh wicket in ICC Women’s World Cups – to help boost India’s tally.
From Pakistan’s point of view, the stance between Rana and Vastrakar was a hard blow to them as they hoped to restrict India after reducing it to 116 for four at one point.
Mandhana and Deepti were fired within a few overs of each other. Deepti missed a sweep and was bowled by Nashra Sundhu for 40, and Mandhana followed 13 balls later, giving Anam Amin a return catcher.
The rest of the batters failed to build on the foundation laid by Mandhana and Deepti as the likes of Raj, Kaur and Richa Ghosh fell in quick succession, leaving their team in a tricky spot.
Pakistan had their tails up at that stage of the game, but Rana and Vastrakar had different ideas and showed tremendous courage to get India out of trouble by hitting in the lower order.
For Pakistan, spinners Nida Dar (2/45) and Nashra Sandhu (2/36) each took two wickets.
In response, Pakistan was dangerously placed halfway through their innings at 78 for five, 167 runs away from a win.
India was rewarded early on for some tight bowling, limiting Pakistan to just 26 for no loss at the end of the power play.
The pressure came on the openers as Javeria Khan took off in the 11th, trying to take the air route.
After that, the Indian spinners continued to control the score, with Deepti and Rana taking the important wickets from Pakistani skipper Bismah Maroof and Omaima Sohail respectively.
Goswami then sprang into action and fired incumbent Sidra Ameen, who was caught behind it. Jhulan struck again in her next skip to remove Dar for 4 as Pakistan stared at a big defeat.
It was gratifying to see Jhulan run hard even after so many years and see everything for her team.
This is Pakistan’s fifteenth defeat in the women’s World Cup chase.
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