Indian women’s cricket team clinches historic gold medal at Asian Games
The Indian women’s cricket team penned history at Hangzhou, clinching the gold medal in cricket in the Asian Games for the first time, as they beat Sri Lanka in a pretty tight encounter. What was initially deemed as a foregone conclusion that Harmanpreet Kaur and company will have it relatively easy considering the stature of the Sri Lankan side soon fizzled into a pulsating encounter as the latter did put up quite a fight.
Harmanpreet Kaur won the toss and opted to bat first, post which India found themselves entrenched in an early rut after Shafali Verma (9) failed to break free and departed cheaply in the 4th over.
It was then that the Indian vice-captain, Smriti Mandhana, and Jemimah Rodriguez came together for a match-defining partnership that allowed them to pile up 73 runs, a crucial stand on a surface that certainly spat some venom. Trying to bring out the heavy artillery, Smriti skied one against Inoka Ranaweera that was comfortably pouched as the former departed for 46.
The fall of Mandhana triggered a collapse that saw the Indian batting unit finishing at a meagre 116/7 with Rodriguez being the second highest-scorer for India, with 42 to her name. The trio of Udeshika Prabodhani, Inoshi Priyadarshini and Ranaweera shared six wickets between them.
With a modest total on the board, young seamer Titas Sadhu raged through the cream of the Lankan batting unit to leave them wobbling up front that allowed the Indian side to rally their troops while Sri Lanka teetered at 14/3.
A resilient display from Hasini Perera and Nilakshi de Silva allowed the Lankans to spark a bit of resistance as the two knitted together a 36-runs stand for the fourth wicket. However, the introduction of Rajeshwari Gayakwad worked for India as Perera (25) offered a catch to Vastrakar.
Post Perera’s dismissal, another partnership between Nilakshi and Oshadi Ranasinghe allowed Sri Lanka to keep their hopes alive, but it was a mountain too tough to climb as the required run rate kept creeping up. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Nilakshi looked to go for a big shot, but Vastrakar knocked back her timber to dismiss her for 23.
The fall of Nilakshi proved to be the tipping point of the game and the Indian bowlers pounced upon that opportunity, finishing things off in style. Sri Lanka were restricted to just 97/8 from their 20 overs, with Titas Sadhu emerging as India’s best bowler, courtesy her figures of 4-1-6-3.