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Mandhana sizzles as India qualify for Women’s T20 World Cup semi-finals




Vice-captain Smriti Mandhana’s career-best 87 off 56 balls helped India storm into the semi-finals of the Women’s T20 World Cup with a five-run win over Ireland in a rain-affected match on Monday. On a surface that was far from ideal for batting and where most struggled to force the pace, Mandhana led by example with nine captivating fours and three sixes to take India to six wickets in the stipulated 20 overs. Helped in reaching 155 runs. In reply, Ireland got off to a poor start with opener Amy Hunter (1) being run out, but Renuka Singh bowled Orla Prendergast for a duck. Already 2/1 down in the first over, Ireland were 54 for two in the ninth over when the skies opened up and forced the players inside. After this the play did not resume.

At that point, Ireland needed 102 runs from 70 balls and were five runs short of the Duckworth/Lewis par score of 59, which paved the way for India’s victory.

When play was interrupted, Gabby Lewis and captain Laura Delany were batting on 32 and 17 respectively.

India are set to take on defending champions Australia in the last four stage.

This is India’s third consecutive semi-final appearance after finishing runners-up in 2018 and another in 2020.

With the win, India, the last edition’s runners-up, bounced back from an 11-run loss to England in their previous match.

Earlier, electing to bat after skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (13) won the toss, India got off to a good start with the opening pair of Mandhana and Shafali Verma adding 62 runs in 10 overs at the St George’s Park.

But Shafali was dismissed after starting once again, caught by Amy Hunter off skipper Delany, who introduced herself into the attack after failing to get the team breakthroughs.

Mandhana was supported in the middle by Harmanpreet and both were trying to build a partnership. It became difficult to play strokes on a surface that was a bit slow.

Despite the slow nature of the wicket, Mandhana maintained an excellent strike rate and reached her half-century by smashing leg-spinner Cara Murray for a six over deep mid-wicket.

Mandhana was lucky to escape a scare before reaching her half-century, but Arlene Kelly failed to complete the catch as the batsman edged Murray’s delivery towards mid-wicket.

Mandhana hit Georgina Dempsey for two consecutive fours, before sending Delany over cow corner for another maximum.

Ireland struck back with the wickets of Harmanpreet and Richa Ghosh in successive balls, but Mandhana continued to attack the bowlers and hit Kelly for two more boundaries, hitting a four and a six, before giving Delany the same treatment. Helped to move towards inches. 150.

A century was on the cards, but Mandhana’s brilliant innings came to an end as she tried to get airborne.

Jemimah Rodrigues hit two fours in the final over and was dismissed on the last ball of India’s innings after scoring 19 runs in 12 balls.

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