The Indian women’s cricket team made history in the Asian Games 2023 on Monday as Harmapreet Kaur & Co. defeated Sri Lanka by 19 runs in the final. In what was the Indian cricket team’s first-ever participation in the Asian Games’ cricketing events, the women’s team claimed the top podium spot after producing a fine all-round effort. Though cricket has been a part of the Asian Games in 2010 and 2014, neither the men’s nor the women’s Indian team had participated in the event.
Batting first, Harmanpreet’s girls put 116 runs on the board for the loss of 7 wickets. With the ball, India put a stunning display on the 22-yard strip, restricting Sri Lanka to just 87/8. Titas Sadhu was the pick of the bowlers for India, bagging 3 wickets for just 6 runs in 4 overs.
As for the match, the Indian team elected to bat first after winning the toss, that marked the return of Harmanpreet Kaur after 2-match suspension. After the early dismissal of Shafali Verma, opener Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues rebuilt the innings.
Inoka Ranaweera gave SL the much-needed breakthrough, getting rid of Smriti for 46 off 45 balls with four boundaries and a six. India was 89/2 in 14.5 overs and the 73-run stand between Mandhana-Rodrigues was over.
That wicket caused a collapse in the Indian innings as except for Rodrigues, who scored 42 in 40 balls with five fours, no other batter could stand tall against the Lankan side. India ended their innings at 116/7 in 20 overs.
Kumari (2/30), Ranaweera (2/21) and Udeshika Prabodhani (2/16) were among the wickets for Sri Lanka.
In the chase of 117 runs, Sri Lanka was troubled by medium-pacer Titas Sandhu, who dismissed the top order consisting of skipper Chamari Athapaththu (12), Anushka Sanjeewani (1) and Vishmi Gunaratne (0), reducing SL to 14/3 in 4.2 overs.
Hasini Perera and Nilakshi de Silva had started to rebuild the Lankan innings, helping them cross the 50-run mark in 9.3 overs. But Rajeshwari Gayakwad turned the tide in India’s favour by removing Hasini for 25 off 22 balls, with four boundaries and a six. SL was 50/4 in 9.5 overs.
From then on, the road to gold got tougher for SL, as spinners Deepti Sharma and Devika Vaidya restricted the run flow. But Nilakshi and Oshadi Ranasinghe fought back with some boundaries, leaving SL with 43 to get in the final five overs.
But Pooja Vastrakar, India’s star in the semifinal with the ball, removed Nilakshi for 23 off 34 balls, ending a fighting 28-run partnership. SL was 78/5 in 16.1 overs.
Deepti also removed Ranasinghe, who played a fighting knock of 19 in 26 balls. SL was 86/6 in 17.4 overs.
Sri Lanka was left to make 30 in the final two overs but they fell 19 runs short of India’s total.
With ANI inputs
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