India made a return to the last four of the ICC Women’s World T20 for the first time since 2010, with a comfortable 52-run win over Ireland. Another Mithali Raj half-century at the top of the order was the highlight of what was the first-ever meeting between the two teams in the T20I format.
In the second game of the day, New Zealand outlasted a racing start from Pakistan captain Javeria Khan to secure their first win of the ICC Women’s World T20 2018, a comfortable 54-run victory in the end. But India’s win earlier meant that New Zealand was eliminated from the tournament before the semi-finals for only the second time.
India v Ireland:
On a pitch that showed some turn and variable bounce due to overnight showers, Mithali used all her experience to build a foundation for India. She combined with Smriti Mandhana to post a 67-run opening partnership, of which Mandhana scored 33. The duo helped India set the base for a safe score, but the India innings lost some momentum towards the end, losing their last four wickets for 27 runs, finishing at 145 for six.
After Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues joined Mithali in a 40-run partnership, but no other batter in the top six got into double figures. Mithali reached her fifty in the 18th over, finishing on 51, making her the first woman to score seven T20I fifties in a calendar year. The eventual win, their third in the tournament, which tied them with Australia on six points, was India’s seventh consecutive T20I win, their longest streak in the format.
There was little joy in Ireland’s chase, which ended on 93 for eight, as only two batters got past single figures, strangled by the slowness of the pitch and the Indian spinners. Wickets fell regularly and then in a heap, as Isobel Joyce top scored with 33. Clare Shillington set a historic mark for Ireland on the way to her 23, becoming the first Irish batter to score more than 1000 T20I runs.
Indian vice-captain Smriti Mandhana said: “Well, it means a lot (to make the semis) because after the Asia Cup final, a lot of things happened back home. Everyone had actually thought that we wouldn't even make it to the semi-finals because we did not even win the Asia Cup.
“But I guess everyone was motivated enough after the Asia Cup that this time, this is the time everyone will be watching, and we have to prove our point. In 2017 we qualified for the final, but that can’t be just a one-off.”
Ireland’s Isobel Joyce said: “If you look at the top Indian players, they play against top bowlers all the time. They have a plan against Ellyse Perry, against all the top bowlers, because they've played them a number of times each year.
“Today’s the first time I've played against any of those bowlers in a couple of years. I'm trying to think on my feet, and suddenly it's four or five balls into a spell and a new bowler comes on. That's really where the difficulty lies personally. It's not the nerves.”
New Zealand v Pakistan:
New Zealand put up a team effort with the bat to score 144 for seven, with their rearranged top four scoring 122 of those runs. Sophie Devine returned to open the batting with Suzie Bates, and the two put on 59 for the first wicket with a mix of aggression and good running. Bates top scored with 35, and Devine was close behind with 32.
Amy Satterthwaite and the in-form Katie Martin then added 37 for the fourth wicket, until both were dismissed in a series that saw four wickets fall for 13 runs in eight balls across the last two overs of the innings. The late slump meant that New Zealand scored only 70 in their last 10 overs, failing to double their halfway score.
In reply, Javeria gave them a scare, following up her career-best 74 not out in the last game with a quick-fire 36 off just 23 balls. That left Pakistan needing just 96 runs in the remaining 84 balls with eight wickets in hand. But she received no support from the other end, only one other regular batter getting into double figures. The spin duo of Jess Watkin and Amelia Kerr finished with six wickets between them, bowling Pakistan out for 90 in exactly 18 overs.
New Zealand’s Jess Watkin, who took three wickets, said: “You never know what this wicket is going to do, whether it's going to turn or stay low, so yeah, it's really nice to bowl with.
“We didn’t finish well with the bat, but I think we just kind of put it behind us and just focused on our bowling and really went hard out there. I think when we got (Nida) Dar out, I think we definitely had a chance then, that was the turning point.”
Pakistan captain Javeria Khan said: “We have worked a lot on the batting since last year. The coach Mark Coles has been giving us clear plans and the girls have responded well. He brings new thinking and a new culture to the dressing room.
“The find of this tour was Umaima Sohail. Even though she didn’t perform as well this time, we have seen that she has the talent and the ability to absorb pressure.”
Scores in brief:
India defeated Ireland by 52 runs at the Guyana National Stadium at Georgetown, Guyana
India: 145-6, 20 overs (Mithali Raj 51, Smriti Mandhana 33; Kim Garth 2-22)
Ireland: 93-8 in 20 overs (Isobel Joyce 33, Clare Shillington 23; Radha Yadav 3-25, Deepti Sharma 2-15)
Player of the Match: Mithali Raj
New Zealand defeated Pakistan by 54 runs at the Guyana National Stadium at Georgetown, Guyana
New Zealand: 144-6, 20 overs (Suzie Bates 35, Sophie Devine 32; Aliya Riaz 2-29, Sana Mir 2-35)
Pakistan: 90 all out in 18 overs (Javeria Khan 36; Jess Watkin 3-9, Amelia Kerr 3-21)
Player of the Match: Jess Watkin
England v South Africa, Gros Islet, Saint Lucia (Group A)
Windies v Sri Lanka, Gros Islet, Saint Lucia (Group A)