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Asian Games

How Indian women's cricket team clinched historic Asian Games gold

From Titas Sadhu's fiery bowling to Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues' patient batting on a slow wicket, the Indian women's cricket team beat Sri Lanka to win the country's maiden Asian Games gold in cricket.

How Indian womens cricket team clinched historic Asian Games gold
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Indian women's cricket team players encircle their star bowler Titas Sadhu as they won the Asian Games gold medal beating Sri Lanka by 19 runs.

By

Sudipta Biswas

Updated: 25 Sep 2023 6:19 PM GMT

Pace bowler Titas Sadhu, 18, is in the form of her life. She stood up on the big occasion and pierced through the Sri Lankan top order as the Indian women's cricket team, coming on the back of a terrific eight-wicket win over Bangladesh in the semifinal, clinched the country's first-ever gold medal in cricket at the Asian Games in Hangzhou on Monday.

By winning the yellow metal, the women's cricket team took India's medal tally at the Asian Games to 11. This was India's second gold medal in the Asian Games after the men's rifle shooting team opened the country's gold medal account earlier today.

Captain Harmanpreet Kaur, making a comeback in the final after serving a two-match suspension, won the toss and put Sri Lanka to bowl at the Pingfeng Campus Cricket Field, Hangzhou.

On a dry wicket, Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma provided India with a slow start.

But Sugandika Kumari would strike in the fourth over to draw the match's first blood for Sri Lanka as wicketkeeper Anushka Sanjeewani found the Indian batter short of her crease.

Mandhana and Rodrigues' patient partnership

What followed next was a scintillating 73-run second-wicket partnership between Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues.

The duo started cautiously, rotating the strike on a slow wicket. They relied more on one-and-twos than going for expensive big shots but punished the loose ones to give the mileage to the Indian innings.

That they showed patience from the very beginning paid off for them as well as India. Mandhana hit her first boundary off an overpitched delivery from Oshadi Ranasinghe. The southpaw would get her first six in the sixth over bowled by Sugandika.

Rodrigues, too, lashed out at the loose balls. Mandhana hit four boundaries and a six during her 45-ball 46-run innings before being dismissed by Ranaweera in the 15th over.

Her dismissal would see India lose wickets in quick intervals as no other players could reach the double-figure mark, except for Rodrigues.

Rodrigues took the fight to the end. She played more grounded shots than Mandhana. The right-handed batter hit five boundaries during her 40-ball 42 runs innings. Rodrigues' magnificent knock eventually ended by Prabodhani in the 20th over.

India, however, could not capitalise on the salient partnership as Sri Lanka restricted them to 116 for 7 in 20 overs, with four wickets tumbling in the last four overs.

Titas Sadhu rattles Sri Lankan top-order

Sri Lanka, in reply, could not negotiate the fiery bowling of Titas Sadhu, who removed their top-order batters Anushka Sanjeewani, Vishmi Gunaratne and captain Chamari Athapaththu for just two runs in three overs. The Bengal girl, who delivered nearly an identical performance against Bangladesh on Sunday, would eventually return with a figure of three wickets for six runs in four overs.

With Sri Lanka being rattled at 14 for 3 in five overs, Hasini Perera and Nilakshi de Silva took the responsibility to steady the innings, rebuilding it with a 36-run partnership. Hasini was more aggressive than her partner. She hit Pooja Vastrakar for three boundaries in the sixth over. India eventually got rid of her in the 10th over when Rajeshwari Gayakwad brought the curtain on Hasini's aggressive knock after Vastrakar took a superb catch at the deep mid-wicket, leaving Sri Lanka struggling at 50 for 4.

After the southpaw's departure, Nilakshi de Silva, a right-handed batter, would form a 28-run partnership with Oshadi Ranasinghe but their effort was never enough for Sri Lanka to stage a fightback as the asking rate kept soaring.

With Deepti Sharma, who was having a bad outing until her final over, and Devika Vidya taking wickets in the 18th and 19th overs giving away three and five runs, Sri Lanka found themselves in a puzzle, needing 25 runs off just six overs.

Gayakwad would defend it, conceding just six runs, and take the wicket of Sugandika to help India win the match by 19 runs and clinch the historic gold medal.

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