India needed to win their final group-stage clash against Ireland to reach the semifinals and they managed to do so by a close margin, courtesy of Smriti Mandhana.
Opting to bat first after winning the toss, the Indian openers, Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma got their team off to a sedate start. When Shafali departed, India had just scored 62 runs in 9.3 overs. The 19-year-old was dismissed for a scratchy 29-ball 24. Smriti also struggled with her timing but she put a price on her wicket.
She slowly started to find her timing and notched up a crucial 56-ball 87 to take India to a total of 155/6 in 20 overs. Jemimah Rodrigues also played an important cameo, in the end, to help India finish the innings with some momentum.
Ireland scored 54 runs for the loss of 2 wickets in 8.2 overs when the rain came out of nowhere and stopped the match. The players went off the field and unfortunately, the rain didn’t relent as the European nation was 5 runs behind by the DLS method.
Smriti was rightfully awarded Player of the Match for her vital innings. After the match, she described the knock as one of the toughest she has played in her career.
“The finger is fine. One of the most toughest innings I would have played. Not the wicket but the pace they were bowling and with the wind, it got worse,” Smriti Mandhana said after the match.
“We were telling each other (with opening partner Shafali Verma) to try and maintain our shape. I was batting bad and she was not timing it well,” said Mandhana, who was named the player of the match for her 56-ball knock.
“But we were trying to discuss that and there was a lot of wind and we needed to get used to the pace they were bowling. Good to post some runs and go into the semis. The England match wasn’t the way we wanted.”
Skippers Harmanpreet Kaur and Laura Delany also gave their opinions after the match
The Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur was pleased as Smriti Mandhana got runs for the team. She also explained why she chose to promote herself in the batting order.
“Smriti got runs, which is very important for us. Whenever she gives us starts we get to good total.” Asked why she batted at number three, Harmanpreet Kaur, who made 13, said, “Just wanted to go up and spend some time in the middle, since I haven’t really got that.”
“(Making to semis) Means a lot, we are working a lot and wanted to do well whenever we get the opportunities. Good to get into the semis and we will give our 100%. We always enjoy our match against them (Australia in semifinal). It will be a do or die and we want to play good cricket.”
Irish skipper Laura Delany picked up 3 wickets with the ball and was batting on 17 when the rain came in. She said that the team wasn’t expecting rain to interfere. That is why they didn’t keep an eye on the DLS score. However, she lauded the efforts of her teammates. She also had a special mention for Orla Prendergast. The all-rounder was the brightest spot for Ireland in the tournament.
“It (rain) kind of came out of nowhere, we weren’t really prepared for it. We didn’t have a look at the DLS score either. Myself and Gaby were trying to build a partnership. Looking back at the World Cup in 2018, I didn’t feel like it was a level playing field. Cricket Ireland have invested hugely in contracts now. At times, we’ve shown what we are capable of. We are going from strengths to strengths,” she said.
“There are definitely areas, particularly in the fielding, that we want to improve on. Overall, it’s been a positive experience. Orla Prendergast has gone from strength to strength. If we can emulate her and take her confidence, we’ll head in the right direction,” she concluded.