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Women defy odds to stay in hunt

cricket Updated: Jun 17, 2009 00:52 IST
Arjun Sen
Arjun Sen
Hindustan Times
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India will be in line for a T20 title, after all. MS Dhoni and his boys may have crashed out after losing both to the West Indies and England in the Super 8s, but it has been a happier tale for the women.

Jhulan Goswami’s side booked a slot in the last four of the first Women’s World T20 on Monday with a tense five-wicket win over Sri Lanka at Taunton. In the process they overcame a wobbly batting line-up and the side’s relative inexperience in the T20 format. Before the tournament, India had played only two T20 matches over more than two years, winning one and losing the other. They started with a loss to England but beat Pakistan and Sri lanka since.

Their preparation for the World T20 was also hit by the BCCI’s decision to scrap this year’s domestic T20 tournament for the women, whose dates clashed with the Indian Premier League. The women’s team thus arrived in England short of match practice.

Despite all the hurdles they face, this is not the first time the women have outdone the men at a World Cup. While the women came third in the Women’s World Cup in Australia earlier this year beating the hosts not once but twice, the men had a tournament to forget in the Caribbean in ‘07 going out in the first round.

The team-members, however, were unwilling to talk about their run to the semis and the plans for the rest of the tournament. The BCCI has apparently barred the team from talking to the media without permission.

After the win against Sri Lanka, Mithali Raj, who top-scored with 32 off 31 as India chased 95 in 18 overs, said: “I didn’t do my job in the earlier games so it was time to do something for the team.” Raj, by far India’s best batter with a Test double century and more than 3000 ODI runs to her name, had scored only 39 runs in the first two matches.

“It was very dicey. When I went in, we had to preserve our wickets while still scoring. I was very tense. I may have looked cool - it’s like the duck looking calm while it’s paddling furiously under water. I don’t have a big build, timing is my strength. But I put everything into those two boundaries at the end,” she said.

While the batting remains a concern, India’s bowling has done well with right arm medium-pacer Rumeli Dhar picking up a clutch of wickets against Pakistan and Sri Lanka. They also have a surprise weapon in leg-spinner Priyanka Roy who got five wickets against Pakistan to follow up on her performance in the World Cup, where she was the third-highest wicket-taker.

India play their semifinal here on Thursday.

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