No Smriti Mandhana? No problem. For the second game running, the Women in Blue produced a complete team performance to outclass their opponents and put one foot in the knockout stages. While Shafali and Poonam once again ran the show, the dance floor, particularly today, saw a lot of new entrants.
Shafali Verma (9/10)
Smriti Mandhana’s absence meant that Shafali had to take charge of proceedings at the top of the order, and boy, she did it and how. She started the innings off in sixth gear - hitting two sixes on her first four balls - and, at one point in her innings, looked like an invincible, superior being. She hit them straight and she hit them sweet and for the second match running, made a case for her to be (already) considered the most feared batter in all of Women’s cricket. A 39 which had the impact of a 139.
Taniya Bhatia (7/10)
Very rarely do you see an opener being given a rating of 7 for scoring 2 off 5 balls, but Taniya Bhatia is in the team for her expertise behind the stumps and once again, she showed the world why her glovework alone warrants a place in the side. She had three dismissals to her name - two catches and a stumping - and the dismissal of Fargana Hoque - where she held on to a sharp outside edge that reared off the wicket - was another indicator of her ludicrous instincts. The move to open with her was a gamble that did not pay off, but should she maintain this level behind the stumps, India would not even mind if she does not score a single run for the rest of the tournament.
Jemimah Rodrigues (8/10)
As was her role in the first game against Australia, Jemimah’s role today, too, was to compliment Shafali, which she did to perfection. Apart from caressing the ball and manipulating the fields with deft strokes, Jemimah, today, brought her ‘power game’ to the fore, striking a couple of boundaries and a six. The lofted six down the ground, in fact, was applauded by Shafali herself. A misjudgement, a run-out, meant that her innings was cut short, but this was easily the best Jemimah has batted since she’s set foot on Australian soil.
Harmanpreet Kaur (4/10)
For a brief while, and it was really brief, it looked like today was the day Harmanpreet was going to turn her fortunes around. On just her second delivery, she cut a Nahida Akter loosener towards third-man to collect a boundary and she had this confident outlook about her batting, with even her defence looking intact. But well, it turned out to be a false klaxon as after racing off to 7 runs off her first 5 balls, she managed just 1 off her next 5, before holing out to the fielder at backward point. She’s burying herself into a rut that’d be very hard to get out of.
Deepti Sharma (4.5/10)
The unpredictability of sport is what makes it so fascinating. One day, it carries you on the shoulder and parades you around the ground and on the very next day, it powerbombs you to the floor. The latter was the kind of day Deepti Sharma had today. Walking in to bat with the score 78/3, her timing was all over the place - she managed just 11 off 16 and miscued a good percentage of her shots - and worse, ended her innings in the most comical manner possible. To cap her day off, Murshida Khatun smashed three fours off her in one over.
Richa Ghosh (6/10)
For a 16-year-old featuring in just her second ever international match, Richa Ghosh, who was drafted into the team for the injured Mandhana, showed great composure, maturity and assessment of the match situation. She walked in under considerable pressure post the untimely dismissal of Jemimah, but kept the scoreboard ticking with some intelligent batting before perishing, aiming for the big hit. Her ‘I definitely belong to this level’ moment came when she dispatched Salma Khatun, Bangladesh’s best bowler, for consecutive boundaries through backward point.
Veda Krishnamurthy (8.5/10)
The Veda Krishnamurthy we saw today was unrecognizable to the sluggish, down-on-confidence batsman that we witnessed in the first game against Australia. In stark contrast to the Australia game where she was swinging hopelessly, today at the WACA, Veda struck the ball clean and gave India a much-needed push. 22 balls were all that left when she walked to the crease, and she took the onus on herself to get India to a defendable target. Won’t be an understatement to say that it was her knock that eventually ended up being the difference maker.
Shikha Pandey (8/10)
On a slow and low wicket in Sydney in the first game, Shikha Pandey’s role was predominantly to bowl tight and bowl yorkers in the death overs, but today, on a WACA wicket that offered plenty of bounce, the right-armer had to showcase her skills with the new-ball. And so she did, with elan. In a terrific three-over new ball spell, Shikha tested the batsmen with her Philander-esque lines and lengths and returned figures of 1/11 off her first spell. It was more than enough to peg Bangladesh back and give India the cushion they needed.
Rajeshwari Gayakwad (7.5/10)
Rajeshwari Gayakwad did not have the greatest of outings in the first game, but she, like Veda Krishnamurthy, made up for it by producing an almost-flawless performance. Her job today was to keep the batsmen under check, bowling in tandem with the other spinners in the team, and she did that and more. The pressure she built resulted in Nigar Sultana, Bangladesh’s best batsman of the day, throwing her wicket away, and that dismissal all but sealed victory for India. Her figures were spoiled towards the end by a late blitz from Rumana Ahmed.
Arundhati Reddy (7/10)
For the second game running, Arundhati Reddy was on the expensive side - she conceded 33 off her 4 overs just like the first game. Today, however, she accounted for two valuable wickets, that of Murshida Khatun and Fargana Hoque, and repaid the faith her skipper showed in her. Arundhati made great use of the spicy WACA wicket, bowled the right pace and extracted good bounce from it, something that resulted in the undoing of both the aforementioned Bangladesh batters. She would, however, be looking to bring that economy rate down, as the team goes deeper into the tournament.
Poonam Yadav (9.5/10)
Poonam Yadav’s ability to flight the ball - wayyyy over the batsman’s head - and make it dip, whilst doing all that at around 50 kph is honestly ridiculous. As Nasser Hussain on air noted, “You could probably have a cup of tea before the ball gets to you”. Yet again, the captain threw the ball to her at a crucial juncture of the game and yet again, Poonam delivered effortlessly. She kept the googly hid for a good part of the match - unlike the Australia game where there were one too many left-handers - but her conventional leggies where more than a handful for the Bangladesh batters, who had no idea how to deal with her turn - and her lack of pace.
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