If India are to win the women’s ICC World T20 crown, they will need to better their best in many aspects. Against a hapless Bangladesh, India did just that by registering their highest-ever T20I score and delivering a crushing win. They bettered their previous best of 151, which was also against Bangladesh.
With the bat, India’s performance was exceptional. The openers showed intent right from the word go with Mithali Raj and V Vanita punishing the opposition every time they erred in length, which Bangladesh bowlers were guilty of once too often. Vanita’s (38 off 24) penchant to go over the infield underlined the positive approach that has been a trademark of the Indian batting over the past few months. It was this same intent that helped them chase down a record 140 against the Aussies this January, as well as a record 220 against New Zealand in an ODI last year.
It’s amazing how much of a difference a positive approach has made to the side’s batting unit: India have been playing roughly the same players for a while now but look a completely different team when they bat so fearlessly.
What Vanita and Mithali began, Harmanpreet Kaur and Veda Krishnamurthy finished. After a lull in scoring when India lost two quick wickets — including the in-form Smriti Mandhana for naught — the duo stepped on the gas at just the right moment and propelled India to the record total. They countered the lack-of-pace strategy that Bangladesh employed (18 overs bowled by spin) by using the sweep shot and using their feet. Both options reaped rich dividends, even against the tortoise-ish speed of leggie Rumana Ahmed (2-35). Both Harmanpreet (40 off 29, and player of the match) and Veda (36* off 24) struck two sixes each, sending a message that the Indian batting line-up has not only the intent but the power and the skills to back it up.
While Bangladesh certainly lacked the same depth in skills with the bat, they could certainly benefit by borrowing India’s intent. As they find their feet in T20Is, having only made their WT20 debut in the 2014 edition, Bangladesh will gain in experience and skills at his level. In a chase of a mammoth score, it is often better to be bowled out for 80 while batting aggressively, than to get to 91 for five in 20 overs as they did on Tuesday. While they have some talent in the spin department, in the form of leg-spinners Rumana Ahmed and Fahima Khatun, they can only win matches on the back of their bowling for so long.
India, too, employed the pace-off-the-ball strategy to good effect, on a pitch that was offering turn, and this might set the precedent for the tournament. Poonam Yadav and off spinner Anuja Patil — who opened the bowling — combined to take three of the first four wickets. Poonam’s loopy leg spin gave Bangladesh a taste of their own medicine.
India’s effort in the field though, apart from a moment of brilliance from substitute Deepti Sharma, left the coach with some work to do. Misfields, dropped catches and overthrows all made an appearance, even as the scorecard hid all of them. India would do well by not gaining false confidence a scorecard can give, and improve in the next game against Pakistan in search of the perfect game.