Commonwealth Games Cricket: India Eye Gold Medal

Cricket at the Commonwealth Games is well underway. India, placed in Group A along with Australia, Barbados, and Pakistan, have played matches versus Australia and Pakistan. In their latest game versus Pakistan on 31 July, India bowled out their subcontinental rivals for 99 in a rain-curtailed game of 18 overs. They then chased down the target with ease, with 8 wickets and 6 overs to spare.

India Give Australia a Scare

Earlier, on 29 July, India lost their opening game versus Australia. Batting first, India scored 154/8 in their allotted overs. Chasing what appeared to be a modest target, Australia barely managed to scrape through in 19 overs. 

They lost 7 wickets in the bargain. Australia are the tournament favourites, and in the course of their CWG opener against India, showed us why. After being reduced to 5/49 in the 8th over, they rebounded on the back of a 51-run stand between Ashleigh Gardner and Grace Harris. After Jess Jonassen was dismissed cheaply to leave the scorecard reading 110/7, Alana King joined Gardner at the wicket, and the pair took their team home without further hiccups. 

Commonwealth Cricket

Top Order Batters Shine

Yet, in their defeat, India showed why they could prove the biggest hurdle to the Aussie dream of a CWG gold medal. They got their innings off to a whirlwind start, scoring 25 runs for the first wicket in just 3.3 overs. 

Smriti Mandhana made 24 of those, including 5 fours, in 17 balls. Shafali Verma took charge after Mandhana’s dismissal. When she was out for 48 in the 12th over, the Indian scorecard read a heathy 94/3. Despite a lower order collapse, India managed to reach a respectable score, thanks largely to skipper Harmanpreet Kaur’s 52 from 34 balls.

New Ball Operator Renuka Singh on Song

When Australia batted, they lost Alyssa Healy to the second ball of the innings. Renuka Singh produced a brilliant opening spell, taking the wickets of Healy, Beth Mooney, skipper Meg Lanning, and Tahlia McGrath. Australia found themselves in dire straits at 4/34 in the 5th over. Three overs later, India saw the back of Rachel Haynes. At 5/49, Australia were well and truly in trouble.

India Bowlers Deliver

In the match against Pakistan, it was Meghna Singh’s turn to provide India with the early breakthrough. Singh dismissed opener Iran Javed for nought in the 2nd over. Then followed Pakistan’s best phase of the game, when Muneeba Ali and skipper Bismah Maroof added 50 for the second wicket. But after Maroof was dismissed for 17, LBW to Rana, it became a downhill journey for Pakistan. 

They lost regular wickets to be all out for 99 off the last ball of the 18th over. The Indian bowlers delivered a team effort. While Sneh Rana and Radha Yadav took two wickets each, Renuka Singh, Meghna Singh, and Shafali Verma chipped in with a wicket apiece. 

The Indian batters made light work of the chase, adding 61 for the first wicket in only 5.5 overs. They reached the target in 11.4 overs, on the back of a brilliant 63 from 42 balls by Smriti Mandhana. The innings were studded with 3 sixes and 8 fours.

Semi-finals Beckon

Harmanpreet Kaur’s wards can expect to beat Bermuda in their last group match to enter the semi-finals. There were several positive takeaways from India’s first two matches. The biggest cause for cheer were the bowlers, who had taken 17 wickets in 38 overs. Another positive is the form of their top-order batters. 

The only worrying aspect has been the failure of the lower order to build on a good start versus Australia. Meanwhile, Australia reached the semi-finals with a 9-wicket win over Bermuda, whom they dismissed for 64. India could shuffle their batting order in their last game against the West Indian outfit. That would give the lower-order batters time at the crease ahead of the crunch games to follow.

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