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Deepti Sharma Wins Arjuna Award: Looking Back at Her Memorable Performances for India

Deepti Sharma has been conferred upon the prestigious Arjuna Award by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. She became the 12th Indian Women Cricketer to receive this prize. She is preceded by Shantha Rangaswamy (1976), Diana Edulji (1983), Shubhangi Kulkarni  (1985), Sandhya Agarwal (1986), Mithali Raj (2003), Anju Jain (2005), Anjum Chopra (2007), Jhulan Goswami (2010), Harmanpreet Kaur (2017), Smriti Mandhana (2018), and Poonam Yadav (2019).

The all-rounder, who is the highest individual run-scorer in ODI for India has scored 1417 runs at an average of 38 while picking up 64 wickets with her off-spin bowling, in ODI. Deepti showed prominence with both bat and ball in the matches before the 2017 World Cup which, solidified her place in the final XI. While she loves to bat at the top of the order, she was forced down the order to consolidate the middle order.

Apart from being an agile fielder whose direct throws have sent opponent batters to the pavilion many times she also bowled three maiden overs in a T-20 match against West Indies. Deepti holds records like highest individual run in an ODI match for India, fastest Indian to take 50 wickets and 1000 ODI runs and joint fastest for India to score 1000 runs.

Deepti’s all-round abilities turned out to be more useful in ODI’s, rather than T-20 where she excelled more with the balls. Apart from her magnificent show in the 50 overs World Cup, this crafty all-rounder turned many games in favour of India, in her brief career. She finds herself too in the list of all-rounders who have scored 1000 runs and took 50 wickets too in the last 5 Years in ODI and one of three spinners in the list.

List of All-rounders who has scored 1000 runs and 50 wickets in ODI (28/6/2015-28/6/2020):

Name Bowling Role Match Run Average Best Wicket Best Average Difference
Ellyse Perry Seamer 48 2049 66.09 112* 63 7/22 24.69 41.40
Dane Van Niekerk Spinner 52 1403 41.26 102 54 4/0 24.50 16.76
Deepti Sharma Spinner 53 1416 39.33 188 62 6/20 27.50 11.83
Sune Luss Spinner 65 1108 24.08 83 83 6/36 21.02 3.06

In her domestic career too she has been playing a pivotal part in both senior and U-23 teams for the last three years. Her all-around effort helped Bengal to promote themselves to the elite group in 2017. In the 2018/2019 season Deepti scored 34 and took 3/33 against Andhra in the Senior one Day Domestic Final and unbeaten 105 against Mumbai out of Bengal’s 181 in the U-23 One Day Final. Bengal won both the trophies.

28, 6/20 vs Sri Lanka, 3rd ODI, India vs Srilanka, ICC Women’s Championship 2016

India was leading the series by 2-0 against Sri Lanka and was looking forward to the complete whitewash to secure the 6 points. Those points were crucial as they have lost points against South Africa (1-2) and New Zealand (1-2) in their backyard. Sri Lanka put up 33 runs in 7 overs after they decided to bat first. Mithali Raj bought Deepti Sharma to the attack and the off-spinner had taken 6 wickets in 17 overs at an average of 7 in her previous two matches.

Deepti Sharma
Deepti Sharma. Image: T20WorldCup

In this match too she lived up to the expectation of her skipper and picked up two wickets in her first two balls of the match. Prasadani Weerakkody was first to depart who was judged LBW, followed by Chamari Athapaththu. Later she went on to pick the prized scalp of Shashikala Siriwardena on 14 to reduce the Islander on 62/5.

Despite Dilani Manodara’s 23, Sri Lanka lost their last 4 wickets in 8 runs and Deepti claimed her first and only five-wicket hauls in ODI. She ended the match with a figure of 6/20 to wrap up the opponent innings on 112, surpassing her previous best of 4/38. Her figure stands as the 2nd best for India, after Mamata Maben (6/10) in ODI.

While India lost two early wickets, Veda Krishnamurthy and she developed a partnership of 70 runs for the 3rd wicket. While Veda remained not out on 61, Sharma contributed with 28. India won the match by 7 wickets and she became the player of the match.

188 vs Ireland, 8th match of Women’s Quadrangular Series 2017

Smriti Mandhana was out due to her injury so Indian management was trying out players for the opening slot. Deepti Sharma, who had been promoted up to the order in the ICC Women qualifier, continued her masterly touch in the subsequent series too. She had scored an unbeaten 51 against Ireland in the series opener but got out in duck in the following match.

Winning the toss, India decided to bat first. Deepti Sharma and Punam Raut opened the innings for India and put an unbelievable partnership of 320 runs for the first wicket. While Punam played the role of an anchor Deepti collected 63.82 % of her runs (120 out of 188) against a dauntless Ireland attack at a strike rate of 118. In the initial stage, Deepti took her time in the middle. She completed her half-century with a back to back fours to Rachel Delaney while Amy Kenealy was sent through the covers repeated times too bring up her century.

Deepti Sharma’s 188 (Based on Runs):

Runs Balls 0 1 2 4 6 Dot %
0-50 82 46 29 2 5 0 56
51-100 44 17 18 2 7 0 38
101-150 18 4 3 2 7 2 22
151-188 16 3 4 1 8 0 18
Total 160 70 54 7 27 2 43

Sharma and Raut who had completed their partnership of 200 runs decided to accelerate after the 35th over. In last 66 balls, India put up 131 runs, out of which Sharma added 88 runs in 30 balls to take the score to 358 runs. She put up a record partnership for the 320 runs with Punam Raut. Ireland went on to lost the match by 249 runs. Deepti’s 188 still remains as the highest individual score by an Indian in ODI and third highest after Amelia Kerr’s (232) and Belinda Clerk’s (229).

Deepti Sharma’ 188 ( Based on Balls):

Balls Run 0 1 2 4 6 Strike Rate Dot %
0-40 18 29 8 1 2 0 45 72
41-80 30 17 20 1 2 0 75 42.5
81-120 46 14 18 2 6 0 115 35
121-160 94 10 8 3 17 2 235 25
Total 188 70 54 7 27 2 117.5 43

78, 1/46 vs Sri Lanka, 14th match of ICC World Cup 2017

India had won their previous three matches of the tournament and was boosted with confidence before the match against Srilanka. They won the toss and elected to bat first at Derby. Deepti Sharma, who had scored 6 and 28 in her previous two encounters came out to bat after India lost Smriti Mandhana in 6th over. She took her time and added a run to her tally in the 8th ball she faced.

Deepti Sharma © Getty Images

Meantime, India lost Punam Raut, and once again the responsibility to rebuild the innings was thrust upon her. Despite playing several dot balls, she rarely overlooked the opportunity to hit the ball to the boundary or take a quick single. Deepti Sharma was seen as comfortable against both the seamers and spinners.

She completed her half-century in 86 balls and continued to build up the partnership with Mithali Raj. She was especially aggressive against spinners like Srilankan skipper Inoka Ranaweera. Deepti Sharma got out after scoring 78 in 110 balls with 10 fours and putting up a stand of 118 runs for the 3rd wicket. It’s because of her innings along with that of Mithali Raj’s India reach to a total of 232.

Despite losing one early wicket, Sri Lanka didn’t lift the foot of the accelerator which prompted Mithali Raj to bring back her trusted weapon in the 8th over. And immediately Sharma put a break to the run flow with her two maiden overs. She kept the ball close to the stump, didn’t give any space to cut the ball or use the feet to dance down the track.

In her first spell of 4 overs, she bowled 18 dot balls. Her economical bowling generated pressure on the batters, and Poonam Yadav took advantage of that. From 23 overs (7-30) where spinners were operating from both ends, Srilanka managed to score 52 runs and lost 2 wickets.

This resulted in the surge in the asking run rate which climbed up to 7.7 from the initial 4.7. In her 2nd spell, Sharma conceded 12 in her 3 overs including a maiden.  Deepti went for 25 runs in her last three but she picked up the prized scalp of dangerous-looking wicket-keeper Dilani Mandora at the crucial juncture of the match. Srilanka was needed 42 runs in 18 balls and Mandora lost her wicket to hoick the ball. Apart from the wicket, initial economical overs and the maiden overs mattered the most in the context of the game which India won by a mere 16 runs.

25, 3/ 59 vs Australia, Semi-Final, ICC Women’s World Cup 2017

Deepti Sharma © Getty Images

India who was playing Semifinal after 8 years was 101/3 after 25 overs in a rain-affected match. Deepti came out to bat as Mithali got out to Beams after a partnership of 66 runs with Harmanpreet Kaur. The match which witnessed one of the greatest innings played by Harmanpreet, Deepti scored 25 from 35 to support her.

Though Harmanpreet yielded at her for miscommunication, later she comforted her junior partner. Before getting out to Elyse Villani Deepti and Harmanpreet added 137 runs in 82 balls which guided India to their highest ever total against Australia.

Australia lost two early wickets, chasing a mammoth total. Mooney and Lanning were back in the pavilion and Mithali bought 19 years old Deepti Sharma in the attack. Her first ball to Bolton was short and outside off which was chopped to the point. She tossed the ball up, outside off and Bolton danced down the track to play it on the side. As the ball created a gap between bat and the pitch Bolton ended up chipping the ball to the right of Deepti Sharma. Australia was 3 down inside 8 overs.

Deepti Sharma was put under the hammer when Perry and Vilani were batting and went for 25 in her 2 overs.  In her next three overs, she gave away 18 runs while picking up the wicket of Megan Schutt and  Australia was 9 down.  Blackwell took the attack to the Indians and was 36 runs away from a miracle in 12 balls. Sharma came round the wicket, the ball dropped in middle and leg and skid in. Alex Blackwell went for the pull only to found that her middle stump was dislodged. India won the match by 36 runs and Deepti Sharma took 3/59 in 7.1 overs.

2/35 and 54* vs England, 3rd Match – India vs England 2018

After losing the first match, England came back strong in the second one to level the series. In the 3rd match at Nagpur, Heather Knight won the toss and decided to bat first. England though had lost 2 wickets, Amy Jones and the skipper herself had stabled the innings. Sharma was introduced in the 15th over where she was struck a boundary through mid-wicket by Heather Knight.

It was the only instance when she had conceded a boundary in her first spell of 6 overs. She conceded 21 runs while picking up the wicket of Knight. In the 46th over, she gave 2 runs, and in the final over only three runs, while picking up the wicket of Danielle Hazel.

Chasing a total of 202, Mandhana and Mithali pulled up the Indian team from a deep grave. Duo added 76 runs for the 3rd wicket after the team was reduced to 23/2. Deepti Sharma came out to bat in the 25th over after Smriti Mandhana abandoned the field because of her ill health. India still needed 103 runs from 156 balls. England sensed a sneak chance to pull the match in their favour. However, Both Raj and Sharma thought another way. They dealt with the opposition spinners with ease. In the next seven overs, operated by 4 England spinners duo managed to score 31 runs out of which Sharma scored 19.

Despite the dot balls, Sharma ran the singles hard and never allowed the asking rate to go beyond their reach. Having dealt with the spinners without taking much risk, Sharma initiated attacks on Natalie Sciver and Anya Shrubsole and clinched boundaries against them in almost every over. Sharma completed her 10th half-century in the format by striking a six to Alex Hartley and secured the victory for India. Sharma remained not out on 54* of 61 balls with 9 fours and alone six.

49*, 0/17 vs Australia, 1st match – ICC T20 World Cup 2020

India had been struggling with their unstable batting order from the previous series and that hurt in the inaugural match as well. After the blistering start, India lost Smriti Mandhana and teenage prodigy Shafali Verma within a space of two overs. Fall of skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, who has been a stalwart for the Indian middle order, intensified the problem, further. India was 47/3 in the 7th over.

Deepti Sharma
Deepti Sharma celebrates after dismissing Meg Lanning © Getty Images

Deepti Sharma who came after the fall of skipper faced the remaining balls of the over of Jess Jonassen without taking any risks. The situation demanded a stable partnership and both Deepti and Jemimah took the responsibilities. While Deepti digs down deep to face the Aussie attack Jemimah found the gaps to rotate the strike. Duo added 53 runs in 56 balls for the 4th wicket with a lone four which Deepti hit against Ash Gardner. Gardner tossed the ball which Deepti Sharma slog-swept to the mid-wicket boundary.

After the fall of Jemimah, Deepti decided to step up the run rate and hit two boundaries against prominent left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen who has previously conceded 5 runs in her 3 overs. In the next three overs, India managed to score only 17 runs. Deepti remained unbeaten on 49 in 46 balls with three fours. Though it was not an innings of blistering sixes, it was an innings of importance in the context of the match. She came out to bat where India needed to rebuild their innings and Deepti Sharma led the fragile Indian middle order in that successful campaign to gain a total of 132.

Australia was chasing a modest total of 133 to start their campaign with a triumphant note. Deepti Sharma was given the responsibility to open the bowling in front of a destructive opening pair of Beth Mooney and Allyssa Healy. She though didn’t pick up any wicket, she just conceded 11 runs in her first 3 overs with 8 dots. Australia only managed to score 33 runs in the mandatory powerplay. She was again bought into the attack in the penultimate over while Ash Gardener was batting on 29 and Delissa Kimmince was on 3.

Australia was needed 27 runs in the last 12 balls. One can remember that in the Tri-series, before the World T-20, DK and Anabel Sutherland tied the match for Australia from almost the identical situation, against England. But not this time. Though she was hit a boundary by Gardner in the 4th ball of the over, Sharma conceded only 6 runs. India won that match by 17 runs.



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