Harmanpreet not fighting enough as Indian women fail to win CWG T20 silver
India’s women’s cricket team fought bravely but finished runners-up losing to Australia in the women’s T20 gold medal match at the 2022 Commonwealth Games on Sunday. India, who at one point looked set to banish ghosts from the 2017 and 2020 World Cup finals, had to settle for silver after yet another batting collapse. As of 118/2, India were 152 to 162 despite half a century of fighting from captain Harmanpreet Kaur as Australia clinched historic gold with a 9-point win.
India‘s hopes of a strong start rested on the shoulders of Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Varma, who had both been in superb form. But Australia dashed India’s hopes by knocking out both openers inside three overs. Mandhana was upset crossing the line, while Varma, who had scored two quick boundaries, skimmed the ball to Tahlia McGrath, three balls after Megan Schutt dropped a keeper to give her a reprieve.
India were 28/2 after five overs, desperate to break the shackles and that’s when Harmanpreet and Rodrigues came to the fore. In the Powerplay finale, Rodrigues created a delicious cover disc, to go with a sweater and a disc from Harmanpreet. McGrath came into the attack and she was also met with some limitations, Harmanpreet bringing out her effective sweeping shots. She fired a six on Jess Jonassen to set up a fifty-run partnership and shifted into third gear. McGrath was crushed for consecutive boundaries and a single later, Harmanpreet was in her fifties on 36 balls.
But that’s when the wheels started falling off. Megan Schutt launched Jemimah with a slower one and on the next course, the experiment to promote Pooja Vastrakar failed as she sank into the depths. Then came India’s biggest jolt as Harmanpreet, trying to play the trick shot, grabbed wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy after the ball ricocheted off her shoulders and into the air. At this point Australia had a foot in the door and they smashed it through the lower order. India’s last five wickets were down 13 runs with Ashleigh Gardner finishing with 3/16.
Earlier, one of India’s CWG 2022 standouts, fast bowler Renuka Thakur was once again right with her first ball. Alysa Healy started with a streaky boundary, an outside edge for four but Thakur sent her back quickly to LBW. Initially given no release, Harmanpreet took the exam with a second to play, and India made their first breakthrough.
Australia captain Lanning, who had scored just one double-digit score so far, gave Mooney good support. After seeing early deliveries, the Australian captain opened up, hitting five fours and smoking a six. She and Mooney added 74 runs for the second wicket and looked set for more before Radha Yadav performed. She led India’s fiery defense with an incredible run off Lanning. The ball was thrown back to the bowler and Radha, unaware of the situation, picked it up and threw it at the stumps. Unfortunately for Australia, Mooney was at the wicket looking for a single and had to lose his wicket.
Yadav’s effort sparked a brilliant comeback. She followed her run with a clean take to the point to see Tahlia McGrath’s back, while Meghna Singh completed a nice running catch from behind as India continued to compete. But ahead of them was Mooney, who reached half a century on 36 balls. With a four from Deepti through offside, Mooney became the CWG 2022 leading scorer. Her innings ended thanks to another piece of ground from Deepti Sharma who took a superb one-handed grab while running rearward. Despite Rachael Haynes balling 18 from 10, India allowed just 11 runs in the last two overs while picking up a wicket in each of their last five overs.