Mandhana, Titas Sadhu shine as India claim historic Asian Games gold in women's cricket with win against Sri Lanka
Harmanpreet Kaur-led Team India claim a historic gold in the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou as they beat Sri Lanka by 19 runs in the women's cricket final.
Opener Smriti Mandhana's valiant show with her 45-ball 46 against the spinners and fast bowler Titas Sadhu's impressive new-ball burst helped the Harmanpreet Kaur-led Team India claim a historic gold in the 19th edition of the Asian Games in Hangzhou as they beat Sri Lanka by 19 runs in the women's cricket final. This was India's maiden appearance in this discipline after Asian Games staged it twice before, in 2010 Guangzhou and 2014 Incheon.
Opting to bat first against familiar rivals, whom they met 23 times previously in the T20I format and only once in a tournament finale at the 2022 Asia Cup, India lost opener Shafali Verma early on. Mandhana then combined with Jemimah Rodrigues to stitch a brave 73-run stand for the second wicket as the pair took a cautious approach against the Lankan spinners.
The duo smashed nine boundaries and a solitary six between themselves before slow left-arm spinner Inoka Ranaweera provided Sri Lanka with the much-needed breakthrough and subsequently sparked a collapse after removing Mandhana in the 15th over. India thereafter were reduced from 89 for two to 117 for six, manging only 27 runs in the final 31 balls for the loss of five wickets. Even captain Harmanpreet, who had missed the first two matches of India's campaign in China owing to an ICC-imposed ban, failed to make a difference as she was dismissed for 2 off five.
In response to the target of 117, Sri Lanka lost their top three, including skipper Chamari Athapaththu, in just 26 balls as Sadhu, who only made his T20I debut in the semifinal match against Bangladesh, picked all the three wickets in her first two overs.
Hasini Perera (25) and Nilakshi de Silva (23) did look to rebuild, but the efforts went in vain as wickets kept falling at regular intervals with Rajeshwari Gayakwad picking two wickets while Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar and Devika Vaidya snared a wicket each to restrict Sri Lanka to 97 for eight in 20 overs.
Earlier in the tournament, based on their T20I rankings as of the cut-off date, India began their campaign from the quarterfinal stage. They faced Malaysia in their opener, but the match was washed out due to rain after the latter faced just two balls in response to the target of 174 runs. By virtue of being the higher seeded side, India made the semis, where they crushed Bangladesh by eight wickets.
This was India's second gold medal in 2023 Asian Games after the trio of Rudrankksh Patil, Aishwary Pratap Singh Tomar, Divyansh Singh Panwar finished top of the podium in Men's 10m air rifle team earlier on Monday morning. Overall, India now have 11 medals with two gold, three silver and six bronze.
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