Women in Blue topped the table for World Cup by winning the encounter against West Indies with a massive margin of 155 runs. They outplayed the Caribbean team in all three departments of the game. What makes the victory even more special is the fact that it came against a strong contender coming back after suffering a loss from the hosts New Zealand. With this victory, Indian women created flurry or records along with gaining back the confidence to do well in the tournament ahead.
Winning the toss, Skipper Mithali (who now has captained most matches in a world cup) chose to bat. The decision was proved right by the two southpaws Yastika and Smriti. Initially, when Smriti was playing cautiously against the short balls bowled by Caribbean spearheads, Yastika showed courage to pull them for a boundary. Yastika ensured India are off to a quick start by hitting at a strike rate of 150, thereby compensating her previous match innings. Before getting dismissed, she made sure India had the right momentum with them.
Skipper promoted herself to one down, with Deepthi playing at no 4. When not of them were dismissed, the two most flamboyant batters of India, Smriti and Harmanpreet Kaur showed why they are the pillars of the Indian side. Both of them backed their strengths, with Smriti driving elegantly for boundaries, and Harman showing her strength to clear the ropes in style. The duo stitched the highest 4th wicket partnership in world cup history. With it both of them completer their centuries in style. Smriti repeated her performance in the 2017 world cup match against West Indies (the innings which made her household name) and Harman scored her 4th hundred, 3 of which have come in World cups.
Both accompanied each other very well. When one batter hit boundaries, the other simply rotated the strike and kept the scorecard moving. The form of best batters was something India was craving for, and living up to the expectations of people and coach Ramesh Powar, the best Indian batter stepped up when India needed them the most. The collective efforts of the duo helped India reach its 300 run mark for the first time in the world cup. It also ensured the highest total for the current world cup.
Now it was the turn of Caribbean batters. And Deandra Dottin proved why she is called as World boss. With her partner Matthews, the duo launched an attack on Indian bowlers. Dottin reached to a quickfire fifty. In the first 12 overs, the scorecard had reached 100. Then came the star of India, Sneh Rana, who dismissed Dottin with her clever bowling right in her first over. Meghna did the trick to dismiss the two new batters and Rana yet again dismissed the set Matthews, bringing the scorecard to 114/4.
The West Indian attack couldn't quite recover from the damage Rana and Meghana had done to their team. None of the batters contributed thereafter. Indian bowlers did a great job. Jhulan scalped her 40th wicket in World cup history. Rajeshwari's turn was a sight every Indian loved to watch. Deepthi's rocket arm direct hit from fine leg to non-striker's end caught West Indian batter off the crease. With everything happening, it was only a matter of time before India won the match, which they eventually did by winning it with a huge margin of 155 runs.
Apart from the victory, a flurry of records was created by the Indian team. Mithali Raj became the player to captain the most number of matches in the Women's world cup surpassing Belinda Clark. Jhulan, scalping her 40th wicket, became the bowler to take the most number of wickets in world cup history. Miljhul duo created a record considering world cup history, whereas others did it for this world cup. Harman became the leading run-scorer, and Smriti the second-highest run-scorer in this world cup. And Rajeshwari became the highest wicket-taker in the tournament till now. These stats just tell us the impact the Indian team has had till now in the tournament.
Indian won the match, and yet again Smriti won hearts with her beautiful gesture of sharing the Player of the Match award with Harmanpreet saying " since we both hit centuries, we both should be player of the match and not just me ". The rapport between the best batters was loved by the cricket fans. With the win, India has gained the confidence they needed to go ahead in the tournament. The round-robin format is going to allow them to face all the teams. India would love to continue their run in the tournament with consistent wins and contributions from every player. And the fans back in India would love to see the same happening.
Authored By:- Ashwin Jangam ( Cricket Analyst, Host and Entertainer)
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