Not even the support of a festive home crowd and conditions they thrive could inspire India Women as they slumped to a three-run loss to West Indies Women in Mohali. The defeat brought the curtains down on India’s disappointing World Twenty20 campaign.
Jhulan Goswami, who bowled all of two overs on a slow surface, kept India alive with a few lusty blows that brought the equation down to 20 off the last two overs. Tension engulfed the PCA Stadium, but a crowd that was on tenterhooks roared in delight as the third ball of the penultimate over sailed over long-on to bring it down to 12 off nine balls.
But her run-out off the next delivery, once again, meant the pendulum swung West Indies’ way. Deandra Dottin, who ensured West Indies were in with a chance by making 45 off 40 balls in the team’s total of 114 for 8, then showed immaculate death-bowling skills to leave India short-changed. Shikha Pandey, who carved a boundary over point to bring it down to five off three balls was run-out off the next delivery to effectively dash India’s hopes.
India landed the early punches and weakened West Indies to 26 for 3 as the contest was reduced to a battle of spin attacks. The hosts then switched off for a bit, only to see Stafanie Taylor and Dottin regain lost ground, and then lift West Indies with a fourth-wicket partnership of 77 that gave the bowlers a handy total to defend.
India were dealt an early blow in their chase as Mithali Raj fell for a golden duck, leaving the young middle to lead the recovery. But West Indies, who learnt a thing or two from India, stifled the hosts’ challenge with spin. Equally impressive was their ground fielding that helped them save at least 10 runs. In the end, it proved to be the clincher for West Indies, as they put one foot in the door to the semi-finals. West Indies now await the result of the England-Pakistan clash in Chennai.
Raj’s glee at winning the toss wasn’t lost on anyone. And the team justified the decision by choking West Indies with spin, as the top order tangled themselves by playing for turn when there wasn’t much. Taylor and Dottin, known for their firebrand approach, tempered down to milk India’s spinners, taking as many as 38 singles in their partnership to set up a platform for the final flourish.
West Indies kept waiting for India’s spinners to finish their quota of overs, but they kept arriving like a factory line, leaving Taylor and Dottin to force the pace. That they did in their own unique style. While Taylor turned to pick singles, Dottin used the crease well to smother the spin and bring out fierce sweeps and delicate dabs that kept India honest.
Not even an outstanding catch by Anuja Patil at long-on could lift them out of a hole they got into; 30 minutes of indiscretion on the field allowing West Indies to get 20 more than what India would have liked to keep them to.
In their chase, there was early panic that was exemplified by Veda Krishnamurthy’s ill-timed pull to midwicket to leave India in strife at 22 for 2. Harmanpreet Kaur scratched around to not just elevate the asking rate, but also put pressure on Smriti Mandhana.
Kaur’s dismissal for a 20-ball 7 left the middle order with unenviable task of hitting out right from the outset. When Mandhana chopped on for 22, there was proper panic. Hard as the lower order tried, they couldn’t bridge the gap, with the lapses on the field eventually proving the difference between the two sides.