India defeated opponent Pakistan by seven wickets in their opening Women’s T20 World Cup match thanks to Jemimah Rodrigues’ undefeated 53 from 38 balls.
A 58-run fourth-wicket partnership between Rodrigues and Richa Ghosh helped India win the match while chasing 150.
Given that India needed 28 runs from the final three overs, Pakistan was hoping to pull off a surprise victory.
India completed their target with one over remaining despite their bowlers’ struggles for control towards the end.
Pakistan’s remarkable score of 149-4 was built on a fun partnership of 81 runs from 47 balls between skipper Bismah Maroof, who scored an unbeaten 68, and 18-year-old Ayesha Naseem, who hit an undefeated 43 from 25 balls.
Favorites India struggled in the field, especially after being pressured by the explosive Naseem, who was twice removed on 35 and 36.
Despite a lacklustre performance in the field, India made a strong start in their chase, led by Shafali Verma, who won the Under-19 World Cup. She scored 33 runs off 25 balls before Sidra Ameen magnificently captured her on the long-off boundary.
Captain Harmanpreet Kaur’s 16-run dismissal with India leading 93-3 gave Pakistan the upper hand and gave them a surprising victory.
But 19-year-old Ghosh hammered three fours in the 18th over, and Rodrigues added three more in the penultimate over to ensure an easy victory.
Although it appears India had an easy victory after chasing down a target with an over and seven wickets remaining, they were under relentless pressure from their opponents. Pakistan will regret the sloppy bowling that put them under stress in the remaining two overs.
In the final phases of the first innings, when Pakistan’s fielding team was standing in shock with their hands on their hips after 33 runs were scored in the final three overs, it was clear that India had been caught off guard by Pakistan’s strong batting style.
The audience cheered as Naseem hit the only two sixes of the day into the bleachers, despite Bismah’s leadership of the innings.
With Smriti Mandhana, their famous opener, out with a finger injury and Harmanpreet making just 16, young talent also showed in India’s innings.
Fortunately, the controversy was prevented because referee Jackie Williams’ error resulted in seven balls being bowled in the 7th over, with the additional ball bouncing for four. Had the match gone down to the very last ball, the outcome might have been much more intense.