CHENNAI: With multiple teams eyeing two spots in the semifinals, India needed a clinical performance against Bangladesh on Tuesday and that is exactly what they delivered, winning by 110 runs, with the spinners stepping up to the occasion.
It came as no surprise when Rajeshwari Gayakwad opened the bowling with Jhulan Goswami as Poonam Yadav had come in for seamer Meghna Singh. Rajeshweri relished bowling with the new ball on the surface that offered turn and bounce as it took just three overs for her to provide the first breakthrough to remove Sharmin Akhter while defending a par total of 230.
Pooja Vastrakar followed up with a full and straight delivery trapping Fargana Haque on the pads. In no time, Mithali Raj understood the conditions on offer and brought spin from both ends. Sneh Rana, who has had a good tournament so far with the ball, got the big wicket of Nigar Sultana. Bangladesh were down to 28 for three.
Things got only worse from there as Poonam and Rana picked up a couple of wickets in quick succession. Bangladesh slumped further to 35 for five. Salma Khatun and Lata Mondal tried to revive the innings and slowly build a partnership. Together they added 40 runs for the sixth wicket, scrapping a boundary here and there.
Brought in to break the stand, Goswami delivered with the wicket of Khatun, reducing Bangladesh to 75 for six. Mithali brought Rajeshwari back on immediately from the other end to tighten the screws. Lata Mondal, however, persisted through the spell and India had to bring back Vastrakar to break the partnership as the set batter was out for 24 runs.
It was only a matter of time from thereon as Bangladesh were bowled out for 119 as India completed a clinical win by 110 runs, giving their Net Run Rate a massive boost. Rana was the pick of the bowlers taking four wickets for just 30 runs
Earlier, Mithali Raj opted to bat on a used surface with a forecast for rain to surprise many. With not much change in the batting order, Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana started off the proceedings positively with the former taking the attack to the Bangladesh bowlers early on.
Verma applied caution and calculated risks in equal measure, picking up the vital boundaries in almost every over. Although the spinners kept Mandhana quiet at one end, Verma was milking them at the other. They brought up yet another 50-run stand between them in just the tenth over and looked set for a big score, cruising at 72 for nil after 14 overs.
That is when the collapse started. Mandhana pulled Nahida Akter straight into hands of backward square-leg. Two balls later, Verma jumped out to attack Ritu Moni only to be stumped. Mithali Raj got out for a first-ball duck, chipping one to the cover fielder. India were down to 74 for three.
Harmanpreet got run out shortly after and India were in trouble. Richa Ghosh and Yastika Bhatia forged hands to revive the innings. They were in no hurry as the duo took their time to settle in and slowly built a partnership. When it seemed like it was going to be a big one, Nahida came back to remove Ghosh for 26 runs from 36 balls.
Yastika, too, got out immediately after reaching her half-century, with India trying to make the most of the last few overs. From 176 for five, Rana and Vastrakar took India to 229 for seven in 6.5 overs. Rana made a 23-ball 27 while Vastrakar remained not out with 30 runs from 33 balls.
Brief scores: India 229/7 in 50 overs (Yastika 50, Shafali 42) beat Bangladesh 119 all out in 40.3 overs(Rana 4/30, Goswami 2/19)