India keeps semis hopes alive

Yastika Bhatia’s gritty half-century and Sneh Rana’s all-round performance powered India to a dominating 110-run win over Bangladesh and kept them in the hunt for a semifinal spot at the ICC Women’s World Cup here on Tuesday.

Opting to bat, India recovered from a mid-innings collapse to post a modest 229 for seven, riding a responsible 80-ball 50 by Bhatia and a late flourish from Rana (27) and Pooja Vastrakar (30).

Defending the total, the spinners, led by Rana (4/30), controlled the proceedings as they struck at regular intervals.

As a result, India bowled out Bangladesh for 119 in 40.3 overs to register their third win of the tournament. The big victory helped India improve their net run-rate (0.768) further.

The Mithali Raj-led side will take on South Africa in its final league match on Sunday. Before that game however, if the second-placed Proteas beat West Indies on Thursday, India’s semifinal chances will get better.

India’s decision to bring in senior spinner Poonam Yadav (1/25) in place of pacer Meghna Singh paid dividends. With the spinners operating from both ends on a slow track, Bangladesh struggled to force the pace and were reeling at 69/5 after 25 overs.

Lata Mondal (24) and Salma Khatun (32) provided some resistance with a 40-run partnership, which was broken by Jhulan Goswami when she dismissed the latter, while Vastrakar accounted for Mondal a few overs later.

The pace duo of Goswami (2/19) and Vastrakar (2/26) shared four wickets between them while the spinners accounted for the rest.

Earlier, Smriti Mandhana (30) and Shafali Verma (42) shared 74 runs for the opening wicket but Ritu Moni (3/37) and Nahida Akter (2/42) shared five wickets between them to reduce India from 74 for no loss to 108 for 4.

Mandhana ended up hitting straight to Fargana Hoque off Akter, while Moni struck twice in two balls in the next over to leave India at 74 for 3 in 15.4 overs.

While Verma was stumped by Nigar Sultana, skipper Mithali Raj (0) was out for a first-ball duck as India lost three wickets in quick succession. Vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur (14) then joined Bhatia as the two tried to resurrect the innings, but the duo scored only 34 runs in 70 balls before a direct throw from Hoque caught the former short of her crease.

Bhatia (50 off 80) and Richa Ghosh (26) then added 54 runs to take India past the 150-run mark.

The duo played at a good pace with Ghosh slamming Lata Mondal (0/20) for successive fours in the 30th over.

However, Akter brought Bangladesh back into the game when she had Ghosh caught behind while she tried to cut a ball that was too close to her body.

After completing her fifty, Bhatia too perished in the next ball while trying for a paddle scoop.

Vastrakar (30) and Rana (27) came together at 180 for 6 at the end of 44th over and added 48 runs in 38 balls, taking India past the 200-run mark. With the two going strong, the last 10 overs yielded 64 runs.