The Indian women’s cricket team reached their maiden T20 World Cup final after the semi-final clash against England was abandoned without a single ball being bowled due to heavy rain at Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
Though rain played spoilsport in the semi-final encounter, India deserved their spot in the finals after a series of spectacular performances from the team throughout the tournament which saw them top Group ‘A’ by winning all the games.
From 16-year-old Shafali Verma to Poonam Yadav – best leg-spinner in the modern game (according to Ian Bishop) – the team put up stunning performances under skipper Harmanpreet Kaur.
India vs Australia – Match 1:
The Eves in Blue encountered Australia in their first match of the tournament and successfully defeated the champions by 17 runs.
Australia’s victory over India looked certain after Alyssa Healy’s stint at the crease witnessed her knock of 51 in 35 balls while chasing a paltry 132. But little did they know a spinner was in line for the ninth over who would crumble Australia’s attack with a thrilling spell of googlies which the Aussies failed to read.
Taking four wickets, Poonam Yadav had a massive impact on the match by dismissing crucial middle-order Aussie batswomen for under 10 runs including Elysse Perry’s duck-out. Not to mention how close Yadav came to achieving a hattrick but keeper Taniya Bhatia dropped the catch and with that the chance of another remarkable moment.
Yadav’s four-over spell ended with 19 runs and four wickets. She was denied her fifth however when she managed to bowl Annabel Sutherland, but it was given a no-ball.
India vs Bangladesh – Match 2:
In their second encounter, India faced Bangladesh and won the game by 18 runs.
Yadav was once again the star of the match with three 3/18 in four overs to her name. But 16-year-old opener Shafali Verma’s rollicking start in which she smashed a 17-ball 39 including two fours and four sixes certainly stole the show.
Invited to bat, India posted a competitive 142 for 6 and then returned to restrict Bangladesh to 124 for 8 to notch up their second successive win in the showpiece event.
India vs New Zealand – Match 3:
India’s third fixture against New Zealand was a thrilling encounter but with the combined efforts of bowlers, the Eves in Blue won their third successive outing by 3 runs.
Verma was once again was under the spotlight with her 46 runs off 34 balls which included 3 maximums and 4 fours.
The bowling line-up picked one scalp each. New Zealand’s batting line-up were not able to reach the target as their innings ended with 130 for 6 wickets.
India vs Sri Lanka – Match 4:
In their fourth fixture, spinner Radha Yadav flummoxed the rival batting line-up with a career-best 4/23 before Shafali Verma’s blistering 34-ball 47 powered India to a seven-wicket win over Sri Lanka.
The 16-year-old Shafali, who was dropped twice in the second and fourth over, hit seven fours and a six in her knock but was unable to reach her maiden fifty for the second time in the tournament, getting run-out in the 11th over.
The Indian spinners dominated the proceedings as besides Radha, Gayakwad (2/18) picked up two wickets, while Deepti (1/16), Shikha Pandey (1/35), and Poonam Yadav (1/20) took one apiece.
The win meant India entered the semifinals with an all-win record. This was India’s fourth successive victory in the tournament as the Harmanpreet Kaur-led side consolidated their position on top of the group with eight points.
India’s last-four clash against England was washed, prompting both captains to say that ‘reserve’ days are essential for knockout clashes.
Persistent rain since morning delayed the toss and eventually the semifinal was called off without a ball being bowled, taking Indians into the summit clash and leaving England players in tears.
India will take on four-time winners Australia, who defeated South Africa by five runs in what was also a rain-hit semifinal match, curtailed to 13 overs after Australia’s innings. The two teams will clash on Sunday, which also happens to be International Women’s Day.
In the earlier seven editions, India had never reached the final but this time, they have emerged as serious title contenders after a string of superlative performances.