Mithali Raj’s aggressive half century put India at the winner’s side against arch rival Pakistan in their second T20 World Cup match in West Indies. She made a a 47-ball 56 with seven fours in the match which was marked by India’s sloppy fielding that was most evident by the dropping of four easy catches.
Opting to field after winning the toss, India made a great start with the ball, reducing Pakistan to 30 for 3 in the seventh over. Opening bowler Arundhati Reddy gave India the first breakthrough by having Ayesha Zafar caught at the slips by Veda Krishnamurthy for no score in the final delivery of the first over.Had Smriti Mandhana not dropped captain Javeria Khan in the third over, Pakistan could have been in a worse situation as they still did not open the account. But two run-outs in the space of three overs gave India the upper hand. First an outstanding direct throw from 18-year old Jemimah Rodrigues sent Umaima Sohail back to the pavilion in the fourth over while captain Javeria witnessed the same fate in the seventh over after a mixed-up.
It was India’s game at that point. But dropping of three regulation catches allowed Pakistan to recover. Veda Krishnamurthy dropped Nida Dar while on 15 in the 11th over. Poonam Yadav dropped the same batswoman in the 13th over when she was on 23. The next over, Poonam made a mess of a Bismah Maroof skier as she completely misjudged the trajectory of the ball. Bismah Maroof (53) and Nida Dar (52) together built a partnership of 93 runs.
Both Maroof and Dar were out in the same 19th over in the space of three balls with Dayalan Hemalatha picking the two wickets. Poonam Yadav then scalped two Pakistani wickets in the final over — that of Aliya Riaz (4) and Sana Mir (0).
Pakistan were penalised for five runs twice during their innings for their batters running on the danger area.India started their innings with 1o runs on their scorecard. Openers Raj and Smriti Mandhana found the boundaries at regular intervals in their 73-run stand from 9.3 overs. It was at the moment when Smriti Mandhana was showing signs of coming back to her form, she fell at 26 runs to Bismah Maroof with Omaima Sohail taking a superb catch at deep square leg.
18-year-old Jemimah Rodrigues tried to play too many shots and eventually perished at 16 caught and bowled by Nida Dar in the 15th over. Indians were going at six runs per over and was never behind their chasing run rate. But Mithali Raj fell at 56 only to hand over the charge to Harmanpreet Kaur and Veda Krishnamurthy to finish the innings. Harman and Veda remained not out on 14 and 8 respectively.
With the win on Sunday, India made a big step towards making it to the semifinals from the five-team Group B. They also avenged their narrow 2-run defeat under D/L method against Pakistan in New Delhi in the previous edition of the tournament in 2016.