India kickstarted their ICC Women’s T20 World Cup campaign with aplomb through a thrilling bowling performance in Sydney, spearheaded by spinner Poonam Yadav, whose fifer downed the reigning champions Australia on Friday. After setting a target of 133, India restricted the hosts and defeated them by 17 runs in a Group A encounter.
Poonam Yadav came out all guns blazing as she spun a web around the Australian batting order, registering match-winning figures of 4/19. Within a space of 12 balls, she sent back three batswomen back to the pavilion, namely Alyssa Healy (51), Ellyse Perry (0), and Rachael Haynes (0).
India brought in Poonam in place of Radha Yadav and the former used her experience to finish her spell with figures of 4-0-19-4. Her match-winning spell also fetched her the Player of the Match Award. “My physio and my teammates supported me a lot when I was injured. I bowled well against Australia here in the past so I wanted to continue that. This is the third time that I didn’t get a hat-trick. I am thankful to my teammates as it is not easy to come back after an injury,” Poonam said after the match.
India maintained the momentum gathered and took things over the finish line in what was a thrilling case of a run chase, as Australia lost three more wickets after Yadav’s bowling masterclass. Australia failed to get the 21 runs needed in the last over, and were restricted to 123/8 at the end of 20 overs.
Earlier, India frittered away a flying start to post 132/4, owing to teenager Shafali Verma’s blistering 29-run knock after Australia won the toss and elected to field. She hit five fours and a six and took India to an excellent 40/0 in just four overs. But soon after, Australia mounted pressure on the batting lineup and reduced their opposition to 47/3.
Deepti Sharma’s unbeaten 49 and Jemimah Rodrigues’ 26 guided India to a decent total, in what seemed to be a doomed exercise right in the middle. While Jess Jonassen registered a 2/24, Ellyse Perry and Delissa Kimmince both scalped one each.
Winning captain Harmanpreet Kaur was thrilled with the victory despite a difficult track to bat on. She said after the match, “Great feeling to win the first game. Knew this track is something where we can do well. Knew if we’re able to score 140, our bowlers will be able to defend it, and that’s what happened. This track wasn’t easy to bat on. Were just looking to score 140. The partnership between Jemi and Deepti got us there.”
“Poonam was going through some injuries but has made a great comeback. That’s what we were expecting. Our team is looking nice. Earlier we were depending on 2-3 players but now we’re doing well as a team. If we do well in the tournament we will definitely win the World Cup,” she added.
India 132/4 in 20 overs (Deepti Sharma 49*, Shafali Verma 29; Jess Jonassen 2/24) beat Australia 115 in 19.5 overs.
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