Srinidhi Ramanujam is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo
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India Women 181 for 4 (Meghana 69, Verma 46, Ghosh 33*, Syuhada 2-9, Duraisingam 2-36) beat Malaysia Women 16 for 2 (Deepti 1-10, Gayakwad 1-6) by 30 runs via DLS method
S Meghana's maiden T20I fifty and her century-stand with Shafali Verma propelled India to 181 for 4 as they beat Malaysia by 30 runs by DLS method in the rain-affected match of the Women's T20 Asia Cup, at Sylhet Cricket Stadium, Academy Ground on Monday. With their second successive win, India are second on the points table behind Pakistan, who have also won as many matches as them in the tournament so far, with only net run rate separating them.
At the toss, India captain Harmanpreet Kaur said their intention was to test the batting depth as they rested their star opener Smriti Mandhana along with allrounders Pooja Vastrakar and Sneh Rana, and pacer Renuka Singh. Kiran Navgire was selected and given an opportunity with the bat at No.4 with Richa Ghosh also being promoted while Harmanpreet and Jemimah Rodrigues did not come out to bat in their regular positions.
With overcast conditions defending 181, Harmanpreet bowled five overs of spin in the second innings - with dark clouds hovering - and gave the sixth to Meghna Singh before rain interrupted play. Malaysia were 16 for 2, with Deepti Sharma and Rajeshwari Gayakwad accounting for a wicket each when the match was called off due to persistent rain. The first wicket, though, was unlucky for Malaysia, as their captain Winifred Duraisingam was given out lbw by the umpire after a thick inside edge off Deepti in the first over of the innings.
After two defeats from two matches, Malaysia remain at the bottom of the table in the seven-team tournament. India will face UAE on Tuesday at the same venue.
Meghana, playing her 13th T20I, gave India a strong start en route to her boundary-filled innings of 69 after they were put in to bat by Malaysia. While Shafali was scratchy on the other end, Meghana looked fluent - which was evident in her strokeplay as she hit as many as six of her 11 fours on the offside with her strong wrists. India also benefitted from Malaysia's sloppy fielding as they ended the powerplay at 47 for no loss. Meghana got off the mark with a six off the fourth ball of the innings, off offspinner Sasha Azmi. She punched, slog-swept and drove towards covers to notch up her first T20I fifty in the tenth over. Her 53-ball knock comprised 11 fours and a six.
With Shafali, Meghana stitched a 116-run opening stand, highest in the Women's T20 Asia Cup and kept the scorecard ticking after accumulating 77 runs in the first ten overs.
Meanwhile, Shafali huffed and puffed to a 39-ball 46 and was looking for fluency till the end of her innings. That she crossed 20 for the first time in her last six international innings would have given her a hint of confidence. Shafali hit three out of the six sixes by India batters and a lone boundary before being clean bowled by the 17-year-old Nur Dania Syuhada in the 19th over. Syuhada got Navgire out on the next ball, while she tried to slog her first ball over square leg only to find the fielder on the boundary.
Ghosh, who came in at No.3, brought out her sweeps and reverse-sweeps to up the ante and finished unbeaten on 33 to provide India with a strong finish. The wicketkeeper-batter hit five fours and a six in her 19-ball knock. Dayalan Hemalatha then swung her bat to hit a four and a six off the last two balls of the innings to take India to 181.