Shafali Verma once again showed her match-winning prowess with an attractive 55 off 44 balls as India out-batted Bangladesh by 59 runs to win their fourth match and almost confirm a semi-final spot in the Women’s Asia Cup T20 in Sylhet on Saturday. After an indifferent batting show in the defeat against Pakistan, the ‘Women In Blue’ put up a much improved performance scoring 159 for 5, largely due to a 96-run opening stand between Shafali and stand-in skipper Smriti Mandhana (47 off 38 balls).
Credit should also go to Jemimah Rodrigues, whose 35 not out off just 24 balls helped the Indian team score nearly 160.
Bangladesh managed 100 for 7 at the end of 20 overs and never looked like being in the hunt for a victory.
With 8 points from five games, India are on top of the seven-team table with a match left in the round robin stage.
Having never chased a total beyond 142 in their entire T20I history, Bangladesh did try their bit but could never force the momentum against a solid Indian bowling attack which kept things tight.
After a shoddy fielding effort against Pakistan, it improved by a couple of notches on the day as there were no easy runs in store. The hosts couldn’t even score 50 in the first 10 overs and scoring more than 110 runs in the back-10 was virtually impossible for them.
None of the Indian bowlers were off target for the better part with Sneh Rana (1/17 in 3 overs) and Deepti Sharma (2/13 in 4 overs) being parsimonious as ever. Even Shafali’s loopy leg-breaks (2/10 in 4 overs) seemed unplayable.
The slowness of the track also meant that spinners could vary the pace and most of the balls were not coming onto the bat.
The two openers Fargana Hoqie (30 off 40 balls) and Murshida Khatun (21 off 25 balls) could add only 45 in the first nine overs and Bangladesh actually were thrown out of the contest at that stage.
Earlier, Shafali showed why she is one of the most destructive batters in this format as she struck five fours and two huge sixes. En route her fourth half-century in T20Is, Shafali also completed 1000 runs in the format.
With the elegant skipper Mandhana for company, the duo added 96 in just 12 overs. Mandhana as usual peppered the field with six crisp boundaries.
Once both Mandhana and Shafali, who tried a reverse slog, were dismissed, Bangladesh could briefly put brakes on scoring but the in-form Jemimah used her cricketing smarts to find the gaps as she and Deepti Sharma added 29 in just 2.3 overs to set a challenging target.
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