Hangzhou: Pooja Vastrakar bowled a sharp and incisive spell to take the Indian women’s cricket team to its maiden Hangzhou Asian Games final, crushing Bangladesh by eight wickets in a lopsided semi-final here Sunday.
Right-arm seamer Vastrakar, who replaced Anjali Sarvani in the squad just before leaving India, had career-best figures of 4/17 in four overs as Bangladesh were bowled out for 51 in 17.5 overs — their lowest-ever T20 score against the neighbours.
India will face Sri Lanka in the final Monday. Lankans defeated defending champions Pakistan, who had won the gold at Incheon Games 2014, by six wickets in the semifinals.
Against Bangladesh, Vastrakar and her young new-ball partner Titas Sadhu (1/10 in 4 overs) extracted all the juice available from the deck as they bowled quick, with the bounce on offer also helping.
Only skipper Nigar Sultana (12) was able to reach double figures for Bangladesh.
The chase of 52 was a cakewalk as it was achieved in only 8.2 overs. Kanika Ahuja (1 not out) and Jemimah Rodrigues (20 not out) took India home despite losing skipper Smriti Mandhana (7) and Shafali (17) cheaply.
It was also sweet revenge for the women’s team, who were forced to play the second game on the trot without their regular skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, who is serving a two-match suspension.
Harmanpreet was suspended due to her angry public outburst and criticism of the quality of Bangladeshi umpiring while playing against them in an away series a few months back.
The Indian women couldn’t have made a better statement than a performance as dominant as the one Sunday.
Vastrakar was right on the money, getting a wicket off the very first delivery when she pitched one right at length and it bounced enough to force Shathi Rani (0) to edge one to Richa Ghosh behind stumps.
In the same over, Vastrakar bowled an off-cutter to find Shamima Sultana plumb in-front while Sobhana Mostary’s check drive ballooned as it hit the top part of her willow.
With three wickets in her first three overs, Vastrakar put the women’s team in the box seat.
The lanky, well-built Titas, who was one of the stars of the India U19 World Cup triumphs, bowled quick and hurried the batters with extra bounce.
The delivery to Sorna Akter was bowled from slightly wide and angled into the block-hole to breach through the batter’s defence.
Titas and Vastrakar bowled 18 dot balls each to choke Bangladesh, and when the three spinners — off-spinner Deepti Sharma (0/4 in 2 overs), left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad (1/8 in 3.5 overs) and leg-spinner Devika Vaidya (1/0 in 1 overs) came into operation, half the battle was won.
It only helped that the ball was gripping off the surface and there was enough turn on offer to make life miserable for the batters.
A couple of run-outs only added insult to the injury.
Bangladesh 51 in 17.5 overs (Pooja Vastrakar 4/17) lost to India 52/2 on 8.2 overs (Shafali Verma 17, Jemimah Rodrigues 20 not out).
Pakistan: 75/9 in 20 overs (Udeshika Prabhodini 3/21) lost to Sri Lanka: 77/4 in 16.4 overs (Harshitha Samarawickrama 23).