Shafali Verma and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur‘s stroked-filled innings helped India put up 154 for eight against Australia as women’s cricket made a promising debut at the Commonwealth Games here on Friday. Shafali (48 off 33 balls) and Harmanpreet ( 52 off 34 balls) took India to a decent total which might not be enough against a champion side like Australia. India opener Smriti Mandhana, facing pacer Darcie Brown on the first ball of the competition, marked the beginning of a pivotal point in women’s cricket with the game aiming to reach the Olympics via the CWG route.
The game did not involve hosts England but long queues were witnessed before the start of the game as enthusiastic fans trickled into the 25,000 capacity Edgbaston Stadium. The stadium was half full but it still made plenty of noise with the crowd cheering each boundary coming from the bat of the Indians.
“We love cricket whether men’s or women’s. I also watched the Indian men’s team here earlier this month, I paid 140 pounds for that. Now I paid about 22 pounds,” said Birmingham resident Paramjeet.
Even the non-cricket fans came to be part of history.
“This is my second live game ever. I watched a men’s game in Antigua four years ago and now this. I am here on a four day trip from Surrey and will be watching as many sports as I can. The atmosphere looks great today,” said Linda Casey on way to entering the stadium.
Like it is always the case, there was no shortage of ‘home’ support for the Indian team.
However, the Harmanpreet-led side lost their way in the last five overs with five wickets falling for 39 runs.
Smriti played some elegant shots during her short stay before Shafali and Harmanpreet took the attack to the Australian bowlers.
With a bit of luck, Shafali smashed Darcie for three fours in a row in the 10th over to set the alarm bells ringing in the opposition camp.
Harmanpreet got going with a paddle sweep off spinner Ashleigh Gardner. She targeted the spinners like she usually does. Her only six of the innings came in the 20th over when she stepped out to dispatch Jess Jonassen over long on before a sweep brought her seventh 50 in T20 Internationals.
The lack of support from the other end hurt India’s chances of putting up a formidable total with the lower middle-order hardly contributing. Having said that, the game was a lot more than the numbers and statistics on a balmy Friday afternoon.
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