Richa, Harmanpreet seal comfortable win after Deepti three-for
India chase down 119 with 11 balls to spare to hand West Indies a 15th consecutive T20I defeat
India 119 for 4 (Ghosh 44*, Harmanpreet 33, Ramharack 2-14) beat West Indies 118 for 6 (Taylor 42, Campbelle 30, Deepti 3-15) by six wickets
A strangling spell of 3 for 15 with drift and turn from Deepti Sharma set up India's comfortable six-wicket win against West Indies on a slow Newlands surface in slightly overcast and very windy conditions. India's second win in a row was more convincing than the one against Pakistan as they chased down a modest 119 with 11 balls to spare to remain second on the Group 2 table behind England, who are also unbeaten and will be India's next opponent, on Saturday in Gqeberha.
The deflating loss was West Indies' 15th straight in the format and their eighth in a row against India, leaving them fourth on the table. They opted to bat again but never got going because India effectively used as many as five spinners and allowed West Indies' run rate to touch six only once in the innings. India's teenage hard hitters Shafali Verma and Richa Ghosh played crucial hands in reply with their trademark display of boundaries, and captain Harmanpreet Kaur chaperoned the chase nearly till the end with a patient 33.
Is Matthews Vastrakar's bunny?
Hayley Matthews might be pleased with the fact that she and Pooja Vastrakar will be Mumbai Indians team-mates at the WPL. Vastrakar's first ball in the second over got extra bounce to get Matthews' outside edge for just 2 to brag of a one-sided record against the West Indies captain: four dismissals in 17 balls for a mere 10 runs. Being their best batter on form, the dismissal hurt West Indies before Shemaine Campbelle and Stafanie Taylor took Rajeshwari Gayakwad for 12 in the fifth over to lift the run rate slightly, finishing the powerplay on 29 for 1.
The spin squeeze and the fifty partnership
Harmanpreet brought on spinners from both ends with Deepti, Shafali, Radha Yadav and Gayakwad bowling five in a row that yielded 26 runs around Taylor and Campbelle's fifty stand. Taylor still looked scratchy and ate up 20 dots in her 40-ball stay on her return from a long injury layoff whereas Campbelle used her feet and the sweep to collect runs. Deepti was the best in that phase with her loopy deliveries in a first spell of 2-0-8-0.
And just when Taylor started to open up with boundaries against Gayakwad and Renuka Singh in consecutive overs, and Campbelle smacked Vastrakar over her head to stretch the scoring rate towards six, Deepti returned to remove both set batters in a double-wicket over. Campbelle reverse swept to short third where Smriti Mandhana dived forward for a sharp low catch with both hands and Taylor was trapped lbw for 42 when she moved across to a straight delivery and India used a review to get the on-field decision overturned.
Two balls later, Chinelle Henry wanted a second run with a fumble from backward point but the quick throw from Mandhana found her short for her second run-out in as many games, and West Indies were in trouble.
Deepti tops the charts
Chedean Nation and Shabika Gajnabi steered West Indies from 79 for 4, especially helped by Deepti giving Nation a life on 3 by putting down a chance at long-off. The duo collected a boundary each in the 17th over to make the team score touch 100 before Gajnabi fetched a lucky boundary with a thick inside edge in an over full of yorkers from Vastrakar. Deepti returned in the last over and got to 100 T20I wickets by rattling Afy Fletcher's middle stump. She now has the most wickets by an India player, across men or women, and with a four-run over finished with 3 for 15.
A minor stutter before Ghosh's finishing touches
After chasing down 150 against Pakistan on the same ground, 119 was hardly going to trouble India, especially with Mandhana back in the XI. She struck back-to-back fours before being stumped in the fourth over off Karishma Ramharack for 11, and Jemimah Rodrigues slapped one back for a superb return catch by Matthews in the next over, giving the West Indies spinners some hope of making a game out of it.
India were, however, already going at over seven an over because Shafali had started off by blasting three fours in the first four balls of the chase. The first had timing, the second power, and the third the pace of using hard hands as the edge flew over first slip. She swung Ramharack for one too, on the leg side in the last over of the powerplay, before holing out against her with a sweep to long leg.
Harmanpreet blocked the good balls patiently but also tore into the attack when they erred. With protection on leg for her sweeps, she unleashed back-to-back boundaries off Afy Fletcher; a caress through the covers was followed by a powerful loft over the same region.
With 55 required from 60 and the experienced captain at the other end, Ghosh freed her arms with powerful pulls, and smashed three fours in the space of five balls to seal the game.
Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo