Hangzhou, September 25: Indian women’s cricket team clinched a gold medal at the Asian Games during their inaugural appearance, triumphing over Sri Lanka by a margin of 19 runs in a hard-fought, low-scoring final held on a challenging pitch this Monday.
Facing a challenging pitch for batting, the Indian women’s team managed to post a total of 116 for seven, which proved to be just enough.
The star of the match Titas Sadhu, who is only four days away from her 19th birthday, delivered a remarkable performance. She bowled an explosive first spell, concluding with impressive figures of 4-1-6-3, playing a pivotal role in containing Sri Lanka to a total of 97 for eight in their allotted 20 overs.
Titas received valuable support from leg-spinner Devika Vaidya (4-0-15-1), who maintained a tight grip on the Sri Lankan batting lineup. Although left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad (3-0-20-2) and off-spinner Deepti Sharma (4-0-25-1) had a shaky start, they regained control in the latter part of the game, securing a sense of dominance for the Indian women’s team.
While India was expected to secure this gold medal, the quality of cricket displayed was relatively poor, largely due to the challenging nature of the pitch. Nonetheless, Titas Sadhu’s fast-paced deliveries and accurate length deliveries accounted for three wickets in her first two overs, including the dismissal of the Sri Lankan skipper and their best batter, Chamari Athapaththu (12).
The Indian women’s team has been missing a genuine fast bowler since the retirement of Jhulan Goswami, and Titas appears to be a promising successor. However, her true potential will be put to the test when she faces players from the SENA countries.
Recognizing the sluggish nature of the pitch, Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur initially introduced off-spinner Sharma. However, the left-handed Athapaththu wasted no time in going on the attack with a six and a boundary off the first over. Harmanpreet then brought back her frontline pacers in the second over, and Titas, playing only her second T20I, induced Anushka Sanjeewani (1) into playing a lofted drive that resulted in a straightforward catch at mid-off taken by Harmanpreet.
The young pacer continued her impressive performance by clean-bowling Vishmi Gunaratne (0) in her next over and then outfoxing Athapaththu with a well-executed delivery. The ball stopped on Athapaththu, leading to her dismissal as Deepti Sharma took the catch at the edge of the circle at extra cover. Sri Lanka was struggling at 14 for 3, but Hasini Perera’s quick 25 runs off 22 balls temporarily revived their hopes before Rajeshwari dismissed her with a well-executed sweep shot, reducing Sri Lanka to 50 for four.
Nilakshi de Silva (23 off 34 balls) and Oshadi Ranasinghe (19 off 26 balls) contributed 38 runs for the fifth wicket before Shikha Pandey removed de Silva and Deepti Sharma dismissed Ranasinghe, both of whom fell while attempting adventurous shots.
Earlier, Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur’s decision to bat first proved to be a wise one on a pitch that progressively favored the bowlers. The Sri Lankan team, filled with slow bowlers, struggled to force the pace against the Indian batters.
Smriti Mandhana (46 off 45 balls) and Jemimah Rodrigues (42 off 40 balls) formed a crucial partnership of 73 runs for the second wicket. To combat the sluggish conditions, both Mandhana and Rodrigues effectively employed the sweep shot.
Mandhana looked in fine form until an injury hampered her footwork against spinners, leading to her dismissal. Richa Ghosh started with a six but didn’t last long, while Harmanpreet Kaur struggled during her brief stay at the crease. Nonetheless, the total posted by India proved sufficient to secure their second gold medal of the Games. (Agencies)