Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha
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India Women 229 for 7 (Bhatia 50, Verma 42, Moni 3-37, Akter 2-42) beat Bangladesh Women 119 (Khatun 32, Rana 4-30, Vastrakar 2-26) by 110 runs
India kept their semi-final hopes alive by routing Bangladesh in Hamilton. Set up by half-centurion Yastika Bhatia along with Sneh Rana and Pooja Vastrakar's all-round exploits, India's 110-run victory at Seddon Park lifted them to the third spot on the table. The win also boosted their net run-rate significantly, and pushed debutants Bangladesh further towards league-stage elimination.
Ten of India's 12 defeats batting first since 2021 had come on the trot heading into this World Cup. That they could add to the victories in that tally despite opting to set a target on Tuesday was down in part to Player of the Match Bhatia's gritty half-century and cameos from Vastrakar and Rana which rescued them from 108 for 4 to 229 for 7. Rana's four-for and Vastrakar's two wickets then broke the back of Bangladesh's chase, complemented superbly by Rajeshwari Gayakwad's 10-4-15-1.
Bangladesh opened with spin and pace and kept India's openers on a leash at the start. Smriti Mandhana struggled against offspinner Salma Khatun but carted medium pacer Jahanara Alam for two successive fours in the second over. Shafali Verma scratched her way to a 12-ball 4 but shifted gears when left-arm spinner Akter's was introduced.
Verma deposited Akter in the arc between deep midwicket and long-on for a six and a four in her 12-run opening over before crunching three imperious fours against Alam to finish the powerplay at 52 for 0. By the 16th over, though, Bangladesh had broken through the 74-run opening stand, removed both openers and even had India's No. 4, Mithali Raj sent back for a golden duck - all in the space of five balls.
Akter had Mandhana lose control of a pull that found Fargana Hoque at backward square leg. Three balls later, Verma's inability to adjust her bat speed against Moni's change of pace had her stumped for a run-a-ball 42. Then, Raj lobbed a full ball to cover soon after drinks as India slumped to 74 for 3. They were now faced with a herculean rebuild.
India scored only 28 for 3 in the second block of 10 overs, with No. 3 Bhatia being more at ease rotating the strike than Harmanpreet Kaur. India reached 100 in 25 overs, but four successive boundary-less overs prompted Harmanpreet to attempt a risky single that ended in her being run out, thanks to a swift pick-up and direct hit from Hoque at mid-on.
Bhatia and Richa Ghosh, both relatively inexperienced, then wrested a semblance of control with a 54-run stand. Bhatia resorted to the sweep often to steal singles and boundaries, while Ghosh, who made 26 off 36, relied primarily on the cut. Playing the shot despite the lack of width one time too many, though, cost Ghosh her wicket.
India were 165 for 5 entering the final 10 overs. Bhatia persevered for 80-ball fifty but was tied up by Moni's ingenuity when she took the pace off the ball again The result: Akter, who finished with 2 for 42 after conceding 17 off her first two overs, took an easy catch at short-fine leg and Moni had her maiden ODI three-for.
Vastrakar and Rana together then added 48 to India's tally, with Vastarkar bringing up India's 200 with a flamboyant four into deep extra cover. She finished unbeaten on 30 while Rana, inventive in accessing the reverse 'V' during her 23-ball knock, made a handy 27.
Bangladesh's inexperience against top-drawer oppositions in ODIs showed in their approach to the chase. They scraped to 19 for 2 in the powerplay, the lowest in this World Cup, as India began to tighten the screws around them. Aided by a much-improved fielding performance than their slipshod outing two nights ago against Australia, India's five-pronged attack kept chipping away at the Bangladeshi line-up, all their bowlers at least picking up one wicket apiece.
At no point did Bangladesh appear to realistically challenge the Indian attack. However, Murshida Khatun, who struck Bangladesh's first six in ODI World Cup history, off Jhulan Goswami, and veteran Salma Khatun oozed plenty of spunk. No. 7 Khatun, the former captain, struck a 35-ball 32 that anchored a 40-run sixth-wicket stand with Lata Mondal.
No. 11 Jahanara Alam eked out a run-a-ball 11 before Goswami yorked her. Bangladesh were bowled out for the lowest total of this World Cup so far and India had their third win of the tournament, with a must-win against South Africa coming up on Sunday.
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