India is now in the finals of the ICC U19 T20 World Cup 2023 after beating New Zealand confidently and convincingly with an out-of-the-box performance by the women in blue which has won them the semis by 8 wickets with 34 balls remaining in the account. All the departments were in their top-notch strata to prove themselves on the field which set the decision for the Player of the Match award a bit in a conundrum, but Parshavi Chopra went up against everything to grab the award with her outstanding spell of 3/20.
The first semi-final of the ICC U19 T20 World Cup 2023 set off on a colder note where India won the toss and chose to field keeping in mind that the women in blue have considered a victory in both the games of the tournament where they were brought to chase down the totals. And undefeated New Zealand, on the other hand, has batted only for a one-off time in this tournament against Pakistan in all their five games.
Titas Sadhu was ready with the new ball to pitch against Anna Browning. The first over came off nicely for the Indian side as Ema McLeod stole a single on the last ball to end the first over with only 2 runs on the board. A very poised start for both teams.
But India went further to concede strongly as the start bowler of the tournament Mannat Kashyap turned the tables early on their side and dismissed Browning for just 1 off 5 balls. Sadhu doubled the pressure in the very next over as McLeod missed her pull and sought herself out on LBW at 2 off 5 balls.
The first boundary of the match came from the bat of Georgia Plimmer on the last ball of the fourth over and three solid but sterile boundaries in the fifth over by Gaze to release some pressure from her side. Gaze continued to streamline her innings by hitting another four in the last over of the powerplay to summarise the same at 40 for the loss of 2 but unfortunately, the good-going met its dismissal in the very next over as Parshavi Chopra brought a crisp come-back for her team.
Sharp came up with the innings’ first maximum on the third ball of the eighth over but had to trot back to the pavilion after the tenth over Chopra struck back to put a hold on Sharp (13 off 14). The thirteenth over saw some really good running between the wicket with five singles coming in a row before Emma Irwin departed for the dug-out early at 3 off 10 balls.
And two more were sucked in the pressure in the consecutive overs, Kate Irwin (2 off 8) in the sixteenth over and Plimmer (35 off 32) in the seventeenth.
Archana Devi had a pleasant smile on her face as she knew what Plimmer’s wicket meant for her side to step closer to the finals. And the topping came great towards India’s way as Shafali Verma took to the scene with the ball in her hand to colour some more pressure which cost New Zealand another wicket, Paige Loggenberg, run out at 4 off 8 balls.
And the New Zealand innings collapsed with a last boundary by Kayley Knight on the fifth ball of the nineteenth over before concluding the innings with her run-out on the last ball at a valuable knock of 12 off 11 balls, post too much running between the wickets with Natasha Codyre in the last over. New Zealand ended with only 107 runs on the board to defend in the semi-final.
With the commencement of the second innings, the much-appreciated duo of the tournament so far, Shafali Verma and Shweta Sehrawat marched on to the crease to chase down the not-so-big scoreboard. The first over from Browning was kept tight as only two singles and a double came for India. But the roar of the partners was not left secluded as both of them welcomed Codyre with respective boundaries in the second over.
Verma couldn’t last longer than the third ball of the fourth over but India looked confident with Sehrawat still on the crease with Soumya Tiwari to support the middle order. Just as the plot seemed to be set, Sehrawat took the golden opportunity to beat Paige Loggenberg hard off three balls for three consecutive gigantic boundaries to summarise the powerplay at 55 for the loss of 1 at a massive strike rate of 9.16.
Post the powerplay, the class of Tiwari came into play as she did shover the sweep through a short-fine area down the leg-side for a four in the ninth over. But after putting up the confidence on the scoreboard and a top-notch partnership with Sehrawat the 108-run chase came to an end in the thirteenth over as Tiwari left for the pavilion at a much-needed knock of 22 off 26 balls.
The last ball of the fourteenth over was a gift for Trisha as she tossed the ball up on the middle to beat the deep midwicket for a boundary and the winning runs came from the bat of the victorious Sehrawat when she got the full-length ball outside off for a magnificent boundary on the second ball of the fifteenth over that pushed the women in blue past the target to 110 for the loss of 2.
They will now take on England in the final of the ICC U19 T20 World Cup 2023.