India 145 for 6 (Raj 51, Mandhana 33, Garth 2-22) beat Ireland 93 for 8 (Joyce 33, Shillington 23, Radha 3-25) by 52 runs
India cruised into the semi-finals of the Women's World T20 after demolishing Ireland by 52 runs in Providence. The result meant that Group B's top-two spots were decided, with Australia being the other semi-finalist. For Ireland, it was their third-straight loss of the tournament. The result also meant New Zealand and Pakistan were knocked out.
On a day where torrential rain in the morning made batting conditions difficult, Mithali Raj battled her way to a 17th T20I half-century to help India post 145. With the outfield slightly wet and a damp pitch to boot, Raj anchored India's innings till the 19th over, collecting four fours and a six in her 56-ball 51.
Openers Smriti Mandhana (29-ball 33) and Raj added 67 after Ireland asked India to bat. This partnership gave India a platform that allowed young Jemimah Rodrigues (11-ball 18) to inject some momentum. But a flurry of wickets in the middle overs forced India to lose their way and eventually limited their surge in the death overs. Kim Garth, the medium-pace bowler, was the pick of the Ireland bowlers, dismissing Raj and Mandhana to finish with 2 for 22.
The lack of pace from the Ireland bowlers forced Raj to reply on late dabs and glances. Later in the game, there was an injury scare when she hurt her knee while diving at square leg. But at the end of the game Raj, who was named Player of the Match, put it down to just a minor niggle and hoped to be fit for the Australia game on Saturday.
Ireland started their chase of 146 positively, going wicketless till the sixth over. Clare Shillington (23-ball 23) and Gaby Lewis added 27, but once the opening stand was broken, the India spinners continued to rattle Ireland. Barring Shillingford, only Isobel Joyce (33) reached double digits for Ireland, as they played out the 20 overs.
But Ireland were nowhere in the contest after the Powerplay. The duo of Deepti Sharma (2 for 15) and Radha Yadav (3 for 25) began to choke Ireland as the field spread out, and regular wickets meant they could not put together any useful partnership.
At 84 for 4 in the 16th over, it looked like Ireland's batsmen would respectably see the game out, but a flurry of late wickets - one apiece for Harmanpreet and Poonam Yadav - and a run-out from D Hemalatha ensured Ireland finished their innings with only two wickets in hand. Taniya Bhatia had an excellent day with the gloves. Three of the eight Ireland wickets were due to her quick glovework.
The winner of the India-Australia clash will determine the Group B topper. For Ireland, their last game against New Zealand will be a chance to leave the Caribbean with at least one win.
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo