Smriti Mandhana, Sneh Rana, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad lead India to 107-run win over Pakistan
Mount Maunganui : A fighting batting effort by Pooja Vastrakar (67 off 59), Sneh Rana (53 not out off 48) and Smriti Mandhana (52 off 75) followed by a clinical bowling performance by Rajeshwari Gayakwad (4/31) helped India thrash arch-rivals Pakistan by 107 runs in their opening match of the 2022 ICC Women’s World Cup at the Bay Oval, here on Sunday.The win extends India’s unbeaten run against Pakistan in Women’s ODIs, making it 11 wins out of 11. The massive victory also gave a huge early boost to India’s net run rate, putting their first points on board in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup standings.Chasing 245 for the win, Pakistan were off to a slow start, scoring just 26/0 at the end of the Powerplay as the Indian team did some tight bowling. The pressure got to the openers as Javeria Khan (11) departed in the 11th over, trying to take the aerial route.The spinners continued to keep a lid on the scoring, with Deepti Sharma and Sneh Rana picking up prized scalps of skipper Bismah Maroof (15) and Omaima Sohail (5) respectively. Brought back into the attack, Jhulan Goswami got in on the action immediately, dismissing the set batter Sidra Ameen (30) caught behind. Pakistan lost half their side as the veteran pacer struck again in her next over to remove Nida Dar for 4.
Pakistan were in a precarious position at 78/5 at the halfway point in their innings and from there on there was no coming back for them. Gayakwad was on song and almost unplayable at times as she had the batters on strings. If there were any hopes of a comeback, she put them to rest with the wickets of Aliya Riaz, Fatima Sana and Sidra Nawaz in an incredible spell of spin bowling, finishing with figures of 4/31 in her 10 overs.The final wicket partnership of 23 between Diana Baig (24 off 35) and Anam Amin only delayed the inevitable. Meghna returned to pick up the final wicket of Baig as Pakistan were rolled over for 137 in 43 overs. Apart from Gayakwad, the other Indian bowlers — Jhulan Goswami (2/26), Sneh Rana (2/27), Meghna Singh (1/21) and Deepti Sharma (1/31) also chipped in with wickets.Earlier, India were off to a poor start as opener Shafali Verma (0) was dismissed by Pakistan seamer Diana Baig in the third over after India won the toss and opted to bat first. However, Smriti Mandhana (52 off 75) and Deepti Sharma (40 off 57) stitched a partnership of 92 runs for the second wicket and helped India build a strong foundation.Things were looking good for India before Nashra Sandhu’s dismissal of Deepti in the 22nd overs opened the corridors for Pakistan to make a strong return.
Deepti missed a sweep and was bowled by Sundhu and Mandhana followed suit 13 balls later, chipping a return catch to Anam Amin.The next few batters couldn’t do much as Pakistan took quick wickets during the middle overs to destabilize the Indian innings. Harmanpreet Kaur was dismissed in the 29th over for a 14-ball 5, trapped in front by veteran all-rounder Nida Dar. Richa Ghosh was cleaned up by Dar two overs later, before captain Mithali Raj, who had been looking to anchor the innings, fell for a 36-ball 9 when attempting to release the pressure with a slog.At 114/6 in 33.1 overs, India were in deep trouble and had the risk of being bundled out for a small total. However, Pooja Vastrakar (67) and Sneh Rana (53 not out) displayed immense grit to pull India out of trouble. The duo batted through the pressure, ensuring quick singles were taken at every opportunity, and managed to release pressure with hits to the fence whenever a delivery missed the mark. They dragged India back into the contest, each scoring half-centuries within a few deliveries of each other.For Rana, it was her maiden ODI half-century while Vastrakar’s 67 was only her second ODI half-century. They put on a game-changing 122-run stand for the seventh wicket and propelled India to a competitive score of 244/7 in 50 overs. During the process, Vastrakar and Rana also shattered records. The duo now holds the record for the highest partnership for the seventh wicket in the women’s world cups.
Brief scores: India Women 244/7 in 50 overs (Pooja Vastrakar 67, Sneh Rana 53 not out; Nashra Sandhu 2/36) beat Pakistan 137 in 43 overs (Sidra Ameen 30, Diana Baig 24; Rajeshwari Gayakwad 4/31) by 107 runs.