A Shafali Verma-inspired Indian women’s team toppled the mighty Kiwis by four runs to become the first team to qualify for the semi-finals in Australia. Although it was an odd off-day for Poonam Yadav, the rest of the bowling line-up made up for it with a dominating display.
Smriti Mandhana (4/10): One of the most prolific, if not the most, Smriti Mandhana was in a terrific form in the tri-series preceding the World Cup, but that has somehow disappeared again in the mega event. After starting on a confident note, the southpaw inside-edged an away-going delivery to be played on eventually. Could things have been better? Mandhana was capable of much better than that and it was a performance that belied the kind of player she has been in world cricket in the last few years.
Shafali Verma (9/10): With the beauty of unruined youth and the promise of much more, Shafali Verma played yet another innings of brash chutzpah. Starting from word go, the Rohtak teenager smashed the little leather out of the park with sheer disdain and irrespective of the bowlers. While she was aided by some bad fielding from the Kiwi outfit, that can’t take anything away from the clean-hitting, the ability to score runs in the powerplay and putting early pressure on the opposition. She did her job pretty well.
Taniya Bhatia (7.5/10): Absolutely clueless in front of the stumps, Bhatia was playing a game of trial and hit. Sure enough, she was India’s second-highest run-scorer, but none of her shots was convincing, with misses dominating the ranking more than the connects. But prods to her for hanging in there and ensuring Verma had a partner at the other end to give impetus to the innings. However, she was brilliant behind the stumps, with a genuine quick foot against the slow and loopy spin of Rajeswari Gayakwad caught Maddy Green completely off-guard.
Jemimah Rodrigues (4.5/10): Batting in at No.4, one down from her preferred position, Rodrigues had been assigned to play a completely different role as she has been accustomed to. Bailing the team out of the woods was her role, but the effervescent Rodrigues was all at sea against New Zealand. With Rosemary Mair bowling full and close to the stumps, her angle of the bat was never in sync and it was only apt that the Mumbaikar was dismissed through a leading-edge against the same bowler. Lady with promise and talent, but a strong performance is now the order of the day.
Harmanpreet Kaur (2/10): Who can now describe Harmanpreet Kaur’s state of mind now? Her exploits and ability are a part of the lore but the kind of performances she has dished out in the last two years - precisely from the point of scoring that century against New Zealand in the 2018 T20 World Cup - it is just not acceptable from one of the “fulcrums” of the Indian side. Kaur was of course playing today but her mind seemed to be in a far distant place. The less we talk about her dismissal the better - a half-minded forward-prode to a half-volley and was caught & bowled. Her captaincy was bereft of ideas and Smriti Mandhana had to chip in every now and then to set the field.
Deepti Sharma (6.5/10): The Uttar Pradesh all-rounder has become a genuine force for the Indian side, with the ball and being the strike bowler, she struck well upfront to give the side an edge. Pandey, due to her lack of pace, exploited the Junction Oval to the fullest with Silver Ferns’ talismanic Suzie Bates being her first victim. She bowled flat for the major part of the innings but controlled her length to put New Zealand’s teenage talent, Amelia Kerr, under pressure.
Veda Krishnamurthy (5/10): Promise is the only thing that kept Veda Krishnamurthy relevant in Indian cricket but a promise can only lead you so far. Her flair is a thing of beauty but after a fine inning against Bangladesh eves, Krishnamurthy failed once again. When India desperately needed a partnership, with Verma just dismissed, she was sweeping with half measure and Kerr is too good a bowler to exploit that.
Shikha Pandey (8/10): 4-0-21-1, the figure might have a very normal check to it but for Poonam Yadav, this spell was everything. The only medium-pacer in the side, Pandey had to defend 16 runs in the last over, just after Yadav gave away 24 in the penultimate over, and she did with effortless ease. However, that was not even the best thing about Pandey’s bowling yesterday. By choking the run-flow upfront and dismissing dangerous Rachel Priest, Pandey laid down the foundation for the win and helped the team to the semi-final.
Radha Yadav (8.5/10): It was a combined bowling effort that guided India to a win and Radha Yadav had the slice of the cake in the form of Katey Martin. She was slightly expensive in the middle overs but she made up for it with two fine catches in the form of Rachel Priest and Sophie Devine. With a late cameo of nine-ball 14, Radha could be mighty proud of her performance today and should aim to continue further as India take on Sri Lanka on Saturday.
Poonam Yadav (3/10): Slower than the slowest, Poonam Yadav is the throwback of the throwbacks. She has a wrong-un to thrive for and like those many tales of Erapalli Prasanna making the ball hang in the air, Yadav bowled the leg-spinners and googlies excellently, but by conceding 24 runs in her last over, she let the momentum slip away to let the game be as close as it eventually to be. She owes Shikha Pandey a big treat for saving her the embarrassment by bowling a fine last over.
Rajeshwari Gayakwad (6/10): A live-wire on the field, Gayakwad was seen everywhere - backward point, square leg, and extra cover. By managing to get the things back on track with her fielding, she did well to dismiss Maddy Green with a loopy delivery and put New Zealand on the back-foot. An invaluable asset to this Indian side, even though she doesn’t seem like one to the naked eye.
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi