Mithali Raj’s 16th Twenty20 International fifty boosted the India women’s cricket team as they extracted sweet revenge for their 2016 loss with a thumping seven-wicket win over Pakistan in the World T20 encounter in Providence, Guyana on Sunday.
The result did not reflect the drama and controversy which took place in the entire match. Pakistan was penalised five runs twice as their batters ran on to the danger area of the pitch. India dropped five catches but Pakistan did not make them pay as they ended up with a total below par.
Opting to field, India started off brilliantly to reduce Pakistan to 30/3. However, Bismah Maroof and Nida Dar, the two experienced players for Pakistan, stepped up to show their mettle. While Maroof played the sheet anchor role, Dar took the attack to the Indian bowlers by hammering offspinner Deepti Sharma for a big six. Dar also benefited from two dropped catches in two overs bowled by Poonam Yadav.
Yadav, the legspinner, was again unlucky as Maroof was dropped on 28 as both batters took Pakistan to their best score against India.
Penalty runs drama
However, the start of the 18th over saw some controversy. After warning the players repeatedly for treading onto the danger area of the pitch, umpire Sue Redfern penalised Pakistan by awarding five penalty runs to India.
Maroof reached her fifty and Dar slammed her maiden half century but Dayalan Hemlatha got both batters to stall Pakistan of momentum. There was more controversy in the final over as umpire Redfern penalised Pakistan again, giving India 10 runs to start with. After a lengthy discussion between Pakistan skipper Javeria Khan and the umpires, the final total for Pakistan was 133/7, their highest Twenty20 International score ever.
After the match ended, skipper Javeria blamed the team's unprofessionalism for the penalties. "I had a chat. They told me that after warning the players three times, they gave the penalties. It's unprofessionalism on our part because we were warned. it's not happened the first time. It's happened in the Sri Lanka series as well."
Mithali the star
India, boosted by 10 runs without a ball bowled, started off brilliantly with Mithali and Smriti Mandhana sharing an aggressive opening partnership. Mandhana and Mithali found the boundary on a regular basis in the powerplay and the 73-run stand effectively sealed the contest.
Mithali slammed a powerful fifty and she ensured India got over the line thanks to some additional contributions from Jemimah Rodrigues (16) and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (14).
India’s second win has put them level with Australia at the top of the table. The Australian women’s team continued their dominant run with a thumping nine-wicket victory over Ireland, who were bowled out for 93. Alyssa Healy starred for the Southern Stars with an aggressive fifty after Ellyse Perry’s 2/12 had restricted the Irish to just 93/6.
India’s next match will be against Ireland on November 15 and their final encounter will be against Australia.