Birmingham, Aug 6 (IANS) In appearances at T20 global events after 2016, India had been the semi-finalists in the 2018 T20 World Cup. But their run to title clash was halted by England. In 2020, they were scheduled to play against them again in the semifinal.
But rain and the virtue of collecting more points than their opponents in the group stage gave India a ticket to the final, before coming second best in the title clash at a full house MCG. This year, they had to endure a heartbreaking loss to South Africa on the last ball of their final group match to crash out of the ODI World Cup in New Zealand.
On Saturday, against a tough opponent like England, despite missing the services of injured captain Heather Knight, India broke their knockout hoodoo in T20I events and held their nerve when it mattered the most to enter the gold medal match on Sunday. Co-incidentally, the thrilling four-run win at Edgbaston was India’s first win in a women’s T20I knockout match outside Asia Cups.
After the match ended, when vice-captain Smriti Mandhana, who hit a blistering 23-run fifty, the fastest by an Indian woman in the shortest format of the game, said to the broadcasters that she hoped for her team to get over the line in the final over, one could feel the emotion behind her words.
“I was trying to remember the last-ball matches and hoped we would get over the line. We haven’t done that well, so more than my fielding, I was hoping to get over the line this time. The crowd is amazing, we usually have the majority but England had it today. I’ll take half an hour for the feeling to sink in.”
In keeping England to 160-6, off-spin duo of Sneh Rana (2-28) and Deepti Sharma (1-16) bowled tight spells and built pressure with the dot balls to never allow England batters to sneak away.
Eventually, Deepti’s 14th and 17th overs, along with Sneh’s 18th and 20th overs, where India had only three fielders in the deep due to being slow on over rate, was the difference between India going into the gold medal match or entering the bronze medal bout.
“We have given a few overs but with matches like this, roles have to be changed. Deepti’s overs in the middle were important. Rana was amazing bowling with only three fielders in the deep. That will be remembered for a long time,” stated Smriti.
On her batting form, where she oozed elegance and was accurate in her footwork while, usage of crease, timing and placing the shots, Smriti hoped to set the tone for India again in less than 24 hours. “I was batting well in the last 2-3 weeks, it was like I was 2-3 years back. I’m happy to have found the touch, hope it will continue in the final too.”