In the first-ever meeting between the two teams in T20Is, India registered a 52-run win over bottom-ranked Ireland, becoming the second team to book a place in the semifinals of the ICC Women’s World T20 2018.
A Mithali Raj half-century saw India to their third consecutive win and their first semifinal in the tournament since 2010. Their total of 145 for six proved too much for Ireland, who finished on 93 for eight in their 20 overs. There was some cheer for Ireland, as Clare Shillington broke an important record on her way to a brisk 23.
Mithali scored her second consecutive fifty in the tournament, both coming at the top of the order after being demoted in India’s first game. With the pitch showing some signs of moisture after some overnight rain delayed the start, Mithali and her opening partner Smriti Mandhana were circumspect to begin with, with the former being given a life when on three.
Thereafter the pair negotiated the turn and the variable bounce as they brought up their fifty-partnership in 42 balls. After Mandhana (33, 29 balls, four fours, one six) was dismissed, Mithali played the sheet anchor role as the other batters tried to accelerate around her.
In the process, Mithali set a record for most T20I fifties in a calendar year as she brought up her seventh half-century in 2018 off 54 balls. But besides Jemimah Rodrigues (18 off 11, three fours), no other batter could contribute much as Ireland curtailed the scoring in the second half of the innings.
Medium pacers Lucy O’Reilly and Kim Garth impressed for Ireland, Garth especially using her cutters well while the pitch afforded her some moisture to finish win two for 22.
Ireland started with some fluency from Shillington (23 off 23 balls, three fours), who became the first Ireland batter to go past 1000 T20I runs. She took Ireland to 30 for one off the first six overs, favouring the mid-wicket boundary in her innings. There was little support for her at the other end though, and she lost her wicket in the ninth over in an attempt to accelerate.
Ireland never really challenged India’s total after that, unable to keep up with the rising run-rate. Isobel Joyce top-scored with 33 (38 balls, four fours), but the slow outfield, sluggish wicket and disciplined bowling made things too hard for the remaining batters.
No other Ireland batter got into double figures, as they lost five wickets for nine runs at the back end of the innings, Radha Yadav finishing with three. Ireland and now play New Zealand in their final game on Saturday 17 November.
Photo: Jan Kruger-IDI/IDI via Getty Images