Smriti Mandhana I PTI
Gqeberha [South Africa]: Smriti Mandhana starred for India against Ireland as she hit her T20I career-best score (87) to help Women in Blue enter the semi-finals of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup after rain paused Ireland's recovery in Gqeberha in the Group 2 clash.
During her impressive knock, Mandhana hit her T20I career-best score as she stood out with nine excellent fours and three sixes. Mandhana was at her best in Gqeberha, creaming her drives early on, before clearing the fence three times to up the ante through the middle overs.
India became the third team to book a place in the Women's T20 World Cup 2023 semi-finals after they edged Ireland by DLS method at St George's Park on Monday. India scored 155/6 and Ireland in reply were 54/2 in 8.2 overs when rain stopped the further play and forced the match to be abandoned.
Defending a target of 156, the finalists from 2020 asserted their supremacy by sending back two key Ireland batters Amy Hunter and Orla Prendergast in the first over. A mix-up off the very first ball saw Hunter run at the wicketkeeper's end and Renuka Singh followed up her terrific new ball spell against England by cleaning up Prendergast to put India right on top early on in the second innings.
The duo of Gaby Lewis and Laura Delany revived the innings for Ireland as they slammed Indian bowlers all around the ground while stealing singles at regular intervals.
Gaby Lewis and Laura Delany joined hands, and the pair did remarkably well not to let the required run rate climb too high, taking the team to 44/2 in the Powerplay.
However, the rain came down in Gqeberha, putting a halt on Ireland's recovery and providing India with a semi-final spot in the Women's T20 World Cup by beating Ireland on the DLS method.
Earlier, Smriti Mandhana's knock of 87 runs guided India to 155/6 against Ireland in the do-or-die match in the Group B match.
Walking in at No.3, skipper Harmanpreet Kaur completed 3000 runs in T20Is, becoming the fourth women's cricketer to the landmark in this format.
India captain Harmanpreet showered praise on star batter Mandhana and said that the opener gave them a good start as she scored important runs for the team.
"It was a good game for us. Smriti got runs which was very important. Whenever she's giving us that start, we are always get good totals. I just wanted to go there and spend some time in the middle. It (reaching the semis) means a lot, we are working so hard for so many years and we always want to do well. Hope we'll give our 100%. We always enjoy our matches against them (Australia). It will be a do-or-die for both teams. We just want to go and play free cricket," Harmanpreet Kaur said in a post-match presentation.
On the other hand, Ireland captain Laura Delany who bagged the important wickets of Shafali Verma, Harmanpreet Kaur and Richa Ghosh, said that they were not prepared for the rain and she and looking at the DLS score either.
"It (rain) kind of came out of nowhere, we weren't really prepared for it. We didn't have a look at the DLS score either. Myself and Gaby were trying to build a partnership. Looking back at the World Cup in 2018, I didn't feel like it was a level playing field. Cricket Ireland have invested hugely in contracts now. At times, we've shown what we are capable of. We are going from strengths to strengths. There are definitely areas, particularly in the fielding, that we want to improve on. Overall, it's been a positive experience. Orla Prendergast has gone from strength to strength. If we can emulate her and take her confidence, we'll head in the right direction," Laura Delany said in a post-match presentation. (ANI)