India showed one of their best performances in all the departments and conceded a comprehensive and commendable victory against West Indies that too by a massive 56-runs mark. The class and art of cricket that Smriti Mandhana (76 off 51) and Harmanpreet Kaur (56 off 35) displayed today helped India carve their niche an inch deeper into the series. This also won the former the Player of the Match award for a fearless knock of 76 runs.
The third match of the dramatic tri-series was set on a curious plot for both the teams as the women in blue were in a stance to register another win in the series in order to cement their position and West Indies were on the notion to try their best out of anything to consider this game as the most vital to keep their hopes alive in the tournament.
A fit Harmanpreet Kaur is in by this time for India to lead the side and eventually won the toss for her side to opt to bat. Following the captain’s call, Smriti Mandhana and Yastika Bhatia went down in the middle of the crease and kicked off with a decent start of five runs in the very first over, where Bhatia stole a single on the first ball and Mandhana concluded the over with a square-leg pull for a boundary.
Bhatia came up with her first four on the fifth ball of the third over and her consecutive second and third in the sixth over before departing on the second last ball of the powerplay at 18 off 23 balls. Harleen Deol walked down at number 3 and smashed off on her very first ball for a boundary to summarize the powerplay at 37 for the loss of 1.
The next two overs were tones light by Mandhana and Deol before the latter met an LBW after hitting a four at backward point to walk off for 12 off 11 balls. With singles, doubles and Kaur’s brilliant stuff of batting that brought a couple of fours in the eleventh over. Mandhana was next to join the party of runs as she pumped down the ground for a boundary on the fourth ball of the twelfth over and a second in a row on the first ball of the next over.
With some really smooth scenes of fine running between the wickets, the fifteenth over witnessed two boundaries each from the bats of Mandhana and Kaur which was followed by a stream of three back-to-back boundaries from Mandhana’s mastering skillset. And a clear anticipation of the skipper for her non-striker came in the seventeenth over as she came up with her overtly massive aura of playing strokes from a maestro and bashed two boundaries in the seventeenth over.
What more could have been awaited for the Indian fans as both the batters looked in the best of their touches as they got overwhelmed with the warmth that the match had soaked itself to and both adjudged two balls each for four imperious boundaries in total. And things went beyond par as the torrential runs got accompanied by the match’s first maximum from the bat of Mandhana that pushed India to the 150s which was summarized well by her counterpart Kaur with a brilliant slash through long-off for a four that froze the scoreboard at 167 for the loss of 2.
What a splendid art of batting both the experienced performed! Especially for Kaur who just came in to play after an unfit session behind and proved her presence in the team. At the start of the second half of the match, India walked down the ground with bosoms high with confidence as they were on the stronger side of the game than West Indies who, sensing the kind of pressure the entire chase was supposed to be, changed their opening order and the Rashada Williams-Britney Cooper duo trenched onto the crease to kick off the innings. Shikha Pandey, on the other hand, looked charged with the fresh new ball in her hand.
The over started with a wide and a poised Williams got off the mark with a fabulous stroke of boundary on the fourth ball of the over followed by a double on the next. But this was not enough to commence extraordinarily for the Indies as Deepti Sharma won it all with her very first delivery of the match that sent Cooper back to the pavilion on a duck.
A struggling Shemaine Campbelle, out on the crease at number 3, got a thick but lucky outside edge that turned out to be a helpful boundary for West Indies, followed by Cambelle’s second of the match on the fifth ball of the third over. In the hour of need for a long-standing partnership, Williams played instead and got stumped superbly by Bhatia at just 8 off 13 balls. The hopes of registering a successful chase seemed a delusion for West Indies by this time.
With just two singles each in two consecutive overs, the powerplay came to an end at just 25 for the valuable loss of 2, which further saw the downfall of the Indies side as Shabika Gajnabi departed for the dugout at a mere 3 off 10 balls. In order to pace the scoreboard up a bit after the end of 10 overs, Hayley Matthews and Campbelle took the risk of stepping up and hitting some magnificent boundaries, three by the former and one by the latter.
Timely hard-hitting and crawling-but-clever running between the wickets brought a fifty-partnership for the duo at the end of the fourteenth over. Although covered a lot after a trembling start, still the target seemed a bit away as West Indies needed 89 runs with just 6 overs left in the account.
Just as the duo again marched forward to gear up after the silent fifteenth and sixteenth over, Campbelle took the chance to hit their first six of the game on the fourth ball of the seventeenth over before getting dismissed in the eighteenth over by Yadav and brilliant innings of 47 off 57 balls by Campbelle came to an end, thus crumbling the hopes of reaching close to the target to some greater extent.
The flickering of the candle was looking appropriate as West Indies kept batting to close it not much far to the total and Matthews and Afy Fletcher looked swaying their bats in the most possible way to get boundaries that helped them concede a few, one by the former on the last ball of the eighteenth over and two by the latter in the nineteenth. And with just two singles in the final over, India marched past West Indies to register their second win of the series by 56 runs as West Indies collapsed at 111 for the loss of 4.