Sublime spell from Renuka Singh Thakur propels India into CWG 2022 semis

Renuka Singh Thakur © Getty Images

A spectacular bowling spell from pacer Renuka Singh Thakur helped Harmanpreet Kaur-led India to book a place in the semi-finals of the ongoing Commonwealth Games 2022 as they defeated Barbados by a mammoth 100-run margin at Edgbaston on Wednesday (August 3).

Hayley Matthews won the toss and opted to field first. While Barbados made one change and included Shaunte Carrington for Keila Elliott, India made two and brought allrounder Pooja Vastrakar and Taniya Bhatia into the squad in place of Sabbineni Meghana and Yastika Bhatia.

Smriti Mandhana, half-centurion and the star performer from the last game against Pakistan, got off the mark in one of her trademark styles as she swivelled and pulled a half-tracker from Shamilia Connell towards the deep square-leg for the first four of the match.

But her fortunes soon ran out as she was trapped in front by Shanika Bruce in front of the stumps four deliveries later. The dismissal of her partner in crime didn’t affect Shafali Verma much as she unpacked her arsenal of shots and picked her spot with perfection.

Verma targetted the off-side more in comparison to the on-side and accumulated boundaries to up the ante for India. Her innings not only helped the team to make use of the power play restrictions but also took a lot of pressure from Jemimah Rodrigues, who clearly struggled to get going from the outset.

Sensing that the boundaries were hard to come by, Rodrigues gave ample evidence of her shrewd cricketing brain and started dealing in singles and avoided risky strokes. Both batters were complementing each other really well but a wicket against the run of play broke their budding stand.

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A huge mix-up between both Rodrigues and Verma yielded a wicket for Barbados as Verma got run out at an individual score of 43 on the last ball of the ninth over. Before India could recover from that setback they lost their skipper, who was adjudged plumb in front for a golden duck.

Taniya, who replaced Yastika in the XI replaced Kaur in the middle but the lack of time spent in the middle was evident as she struggled to keep India’s run flow going. Her struggle was eventually brought to an end in the 13th over as skipper Matthews got rid of her.

With the scoreboard reading 92 for 4 at the end of the 13th over, India needed both Rodrigues and Deepti Sharma to deliver and they did. They put together an impressive 70-run stand in just seven overs to help the team post 162 on the board at the end of their 20 overs. Rodrigues was eventually rewarded for her grit as she scored yet another T20I half-century.

Both Rodrigues and Sharma accumulated runs at a splendid rate at the death and made sure that the India finished with plenty of momentum on their side at the end of the innings break.

Chasing 163, Barbados needed to get off to a really good start but unfortunately for them it didn’t pan out the same way. India’s new pace sensation Thakur got into the act straightaway and derailed their run chase. Firstly, she rattled the stumps of ‘The World Boss’ while the latter tried to hoick her over the on-side and ended up missing it altogether.

Skipper Matthews struck a couple of breathtaking boundaries but was soon undone by Thakur at an individual score of nine. Her wicket put an end to Barbados’ chances of advancing to the semis. Thakur went on to bag two more wickets and ended up with a match-winning four-wicket haul and also recorded her career-best bowling figures in T20Is.

The rest of the Barbados batters failed to put up a fight and eventually aggregated 62 runs in their 20 overs for the loss of eight wickets.

Brief scores: India 162/4 in 20 overs (Jemimah Rodrigues 56*; Shanika Bruce 1/17) beat Barbados 62/8 in 20 overs (Kyshona Knight 16; Renuka Singh Thakur 4/10) by 100 runs