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Harmanpreet leads India Women to big win

Clinical show with both bat and ball drives home side to 72-run win against Bangladesh Women in opening match of Women’s World T20.

15 March 2016 19:18 By Ananya Upendran, Bangalore

In India Women team’s warm-up routine before the match, Team Red, led by Harmanpreet Kaur and Veda Krishnamurthy, convincingly beat Team Blue in a game of touch rugby. However, the team in blue was the one smiling at the end of the opening match of the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 between India and Bangladesh Women at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.

Harmanpreet and Krishnamurthy certainly starred for India in its 72-run demolition of Bangladesh, but their other teammates in red, Mithali Raj and Vanitha VR, did their share of work too on Tuesday (March 15).

First, Vanitha and Raj shared an opening stand of 62 in just 7.4 overs that set the tone for the game, before Harmanpreet and Krishnamurthy added the finishing touches to the innings as India motored to 163 for 5, its highest-ever score in a Twenty20 International. The bowlers then combined to restrict Bangladesh to 91 for 5.

Vanitha, a Bangalore girl, took a few balls to get going, but once she gauged the pace of the pitch, there was no stopping her. The right hander played some crisp cover drives and flicks through midwicket, but it was her straight hitting that was most impressive. Her thrill-a-minute innings was ended by Nahida Akter, the left-arm spinner, when she was comprehensively bowled for a 24-ball 38 which included seven fours.

Once the Power Play ended though, Bangladesh brought its spinners on, and the run-rate slowed. Vanitha’s wicket was followed by that of Smriti Mandhana, who was unable to carry on her form from the warm-up matches, falling to the legspin of Fahima Khatun for a duck to leave India 63 for 2.

Meanwhile, Raj, quite uncharacteristically, was flying under the radar at the other end. The Indian captain was being fed in her area of strength—wide outside off stump—by the Bangladesh bowlers. She milked the cover area throughout her innings, finding the gaps with ease, both off the spinner and the pace bowlers.

Rumana Ahmed, Bangladesh’s best bowler in the warm-up matches, dismissed Raj for 42, caught at cover. The legspinner’s lack of pace seemed to do the trick for her team as, initially at least, the Indians found the going tough against her.

With India at 95 for 3 in the 14th over, Harmanpreet and Krishnamurthy joined hands. Harmanpreet had just been picking up singles while Raj was around, but decided to up the ante after the captain fell. She danced down the track to the offspin of Khadija Tul Kubra to smash the first six of the tournament over long-off.

The pair put on 41 runs in only four overs as India pressed the accelerator. With time at the crease, Harmanpreet’s confidence grew and even mishits began to find the boundary. Having hit Rumana for her second six of the day, the right-hander was caught in the deep going for another, for a 29-ball 40. Her innings included three fours and two sixes.

Krishnamurthy also unfurled her whole array of strokes, smashing two sixes off Fahima and taking India to a formidable total. She finished unbeaten on 30 off 24 balls which included two sixes.

Rumana and Fahima picked up two wickets each for Bangladesh, but it was Nahida, the 15-year old left-arm spinner, who was the most impressive bowler although she picked up only one wicket.

In reply, Bangladesh’s innings never really took off. Although it managed to tackle the pace of Jhulan Goswami, the batters were undone by the Indian spinners, with Anuja Patil and Poonam Yadav picking up two wickets each.

Sharmin Akhter (21), the opener, and Sultana (27 not out) contributed the most substantial scores for Bangladesh.

Ayasha Rahman was the first to go, caught at fine leg off Patil. Yadav picked up the two of the next three wickets to fall, reducing Bangladesh to 44 for 4.

The Indians were clinical in the field, Deepti Sharma, substituting for Vanitha, even effecting a run-out to see the back of Sharmin.

The visiting side never recovered from there, ending on 91 for 5 thanks to a gritty 25-ball knock from Sultana.

Click here to view the full scorecard.