On the eve of their match against the West Indies, Indian women’s captain Mithali Raj had said the team was playing well in patches and if they had any chance to advance further in the tournament, they need to be more consistent.
Raj also hoped the relatively newer faces in the team would step it up and give a performance which would be remembered by Indian fans.
Though 19-year-old Smriti Mandhana and Veda Krishnamurty, who has found renewed belief in her batting after losing her place for a while, did string together a promising partnership at the top of the order after the loss of Mithali Raj on the first ball of the innings, the collective effort required to win the must-win game was not delivered.
Anuja Patil and Harmanpreet took advantage of the slowness of the pitch to restrict West Indies to 114 for 8 in 20 overs, it was an all-round performance by all rounder Deandra Dottin which showed India the door. Dottin was as effective with the bat as she was with the ball, chipping in with match-winning contributions with both.
Dottin came in when her side was in a precarious position. Opener Hayley Mathews didn’t last long as she fell cheaply while attempting a cut off a slower delivery that did not bounce much. Realising that the pitch had something to offer to the slow bowlers, Raj immediately turned to off-breaker Patil and in consecutive overs, the Kolhapur girl removed Kyshona Knights and Shaquana Quintyne. That brought Dottin to the crease and she joined West Indies captain Stephanie Taylor who helplessly saw her teammates throw away their wickets. The duo calmed the storm with some sensible stroke-play even as the spinners continued to bowl for the next 10 overs.
They stitched together a 77-run partnership, with Dottin scoring 45 of them. The duo made batting look easy on a surface that assisted spinners and the Indian bowlers were running out of ideas to halt their charge. Local girl Harmanpreet provided the much-needed breakthrough when she removed Taylor (47), who attempted a lofted shot but could not connect well. Patil came in sprinting from long-on to take a smart catch. Harmanpreet followed it up with two more quick wickets, including that of Dottin, to finish with the best figures among the Indian bowlers, taking three wickets for 18.
Apart from the impressive stand between Dottin and Taylor, West Indies managed just one double-digit partnership. In fact, their highest run-scorer after these two batters was Mathews, who managed just six runs.
The target of 115 looked achievable, although the Indian batters had not done much in their previous matches to inspire confidence. And the host’s began their chase in the worse-possible fashion after Raj was dimissed for a duck on her first delivery. That brought Veda Krishnamurthy in and during her short stay at the crease, she (18, 4×4) smashed four boundaries to unsettle the West Indies.
Taylor turned to Dottin once again to rescue her side and she made an instant impact. Krishnamurthy went for one shot too many and while attempting to pull a short ball on the off, she lobbed it straight towards Stacy-Ann King at midwicket. That wicket put the brakes on India’s scoring rate and the crisis deepened when Aye Fletcher dismissed Harmanpreet. India never managed to get a partnership going but the target never looked beyond their reach. Patil (26, 1×4) and Jhulan Goswami (25, 1×4, 1×6) ensured India stayed in the hunt by playing sensibly and low-risk shots although it did escalate the required rate. With the duo still at the crease and hosts needing 21 runs in 15 balls with six wickets in hand, the match was still tilted in India’s favour. But in a span of 11 balls, India threw the match away.
Patil was dismissed leg before by Quintyne and her wicket had a domino effect of sorts. India lost five wickets, including Patil’s, in those 11 balls with Dottin returning to add two more to her tally. Ultimately, they fell short by four runs as the men’s team witnessed what unfolded in front of them in disbelief. The collapse brought down curtains on India’s uninspiring campaign. Raj hoped the youngsters would produce a performance that will be remembered by the fans. Unfortunately, even the packed stands and noisy fans who created quite an atmosphere could not inspire the team enough.
Brief scores: West Indies Women 114/8 in 20 overs (Stafanie Taylor 47, Deandra Dottin 45; Harmanpreet Kaur 4/23, Anuja Patil 3/16) beat India Women 111/9 in 20 overs (Smriti Mandhana 22, Patil 26, Jhulan Goswami 25; Dottin 3/16, Affy Fletcher 2/15 ) by three runs.