NEW DELHI, February 12: Jemimah Rodrigues and Richa Ghosh’s incredible 58-run partnership for the fourth wicket coupled with sloppy fielding from the Pakistani women helped India cruise to a seven-wicket win over the arch-rivals in their Group B campaign opener of the Women’s T20 World Cup in Cape Town on Sunday.
The scintillating partnership between the Jemimah and Richa duo helped India pull off the second-highest successful run-chase in Women’s T20 World Cup history.
Rodrigues scored a stunning unbeaten 53 while Richa hit a power-packed 20-ball unbeaten 31 in India’s 150 chase which was completed with an over to spare.
Ghosh slammed three successive boundaries in a productive 18th over, sent down by Aiman Anwer, to change the complexion of the game, just when it seemed it was getting tight for India.
Ghosh and Rodrigues turned the main architects of India’s win after their chase was derailed following quick departures of Shafali Verma and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur.
Shafali (33 off 25 balls) and Yastika Bhatia (17) gave a good start to the Indian run chase, stitching 38 runs in 5.3 overs. The powerplay overs yielded 43 runs for one wicket.
Shafali, who successfully reviewed a LBW decision in the fourth over, was going strong as she took the attack to the opposition bowlers. But her dismissal in the 10th over with Sidra Ameen taking a fine catch near the boundary off the bowling of Nashra Sandhu set India on the back-foot.
One-down Jemimah survived a close stumping call as India reached 67 for 2 at the halfway mark with the experienced captain Harmanpreet having arrived at the crease.
Harmanpreet struck a boundary from the third delivery she faced and repeated it in the same 11th over to swell the Indian total. But she was guilty of trying to slog-sweep across the line and against the turn off the bowling of Fatima Sana.
The top edge was easily taken by Bismah Maroof as India were reduced to 93 for 3 in 13.3 overs.
India needed 83 runs from the last 10 overs and despite the fall of crucial wickets, the good start and batting depth kept India in the hunt. But run rate kept climbing for India as they needed 47 from the last five overs.
With Jemimah and new batter Richa getting the boundaries often, the equation became 28 runs from three overs.
Richa turned the match on its head as she hit three successive boundaries in the first three balls of the 18th over bowled by Aiman Anwer. Ghosh was smart enough to send two widish deliveries to the fence.
Needing 14 from the last two overs, Jemimah struck three fours in the penultimate over to end the match in a jiffy.
Earlier, Pakistan posted 149 for 4 after electing to bat, their highest T20 World Cup total.
Pakistan were reduced to 43 for 3 in the eighth over but they made a brilliant recovery, scoring 91 runs in the second half of their innings with captain Bismah Maroof (68 not out) and Ayesha Naseem (43 not out) stitching 81 runs for the unconquered fifth wicket.
Maroof struck seven fours during her 55-ball unbeaten knock while Naseem hit two fours and two sixes from 25 balls during her unbeaten innings.
Pakistan scored 91 runs from the second half of their innings and 58 from the last five overs, as Maroof and Naseem frustrated the Indian bowlers for more than eight overs to take their side to a challenging total.
For India, left-arm spinner Radha Yadav was the most successful bowler with figures of 2/21 while Deepti Sharma and Pooja Vastrakar got one wicket each.
India did not take long to get the breakthrough, with in-form off-spinner Deepti Sharma dismissing Pakistan opener Javeria Khan (8) in the second over with India captain Harmanpreet Kaur taking an easy catch at short fine leg after the batter had struck a boundary in the previous ball.
Pakistan showed attacking intent even after the early jolt as captain and one-down Bismah Maroof hit two consecutive boundaries in the fourth over. Pakistan were 39 for one at the end of powerplay overs.
A change in bowling yielded success for the Indians as left-arm spinner Radha Yadav removed the other opener Muneeba Ali (12) in the seventh over. A smart review by the Indians in the next over resulted to another wicket as Nida Dar was ruled out as there was a slight touch of the ball on her gloves off Pooja Vastrakar.
The two quick wickets set Pakistan on the back-foot from a promising position as they were reduced to 58 for 3 at the halfway mark.
The experienced Maroof was going strong and held one end together but wickets fell around her, including that of Sidra Ameen (11) who became Yadav’s second victim in the 13th over.
With the arrival of Ayesha Naseem in the 13th over, Pakistan pressed the accelerator as she made scoring look easy with a six and four off Renuka Singh in the 16th over.
(ToI With inputs from PTI)