The Women in Blue were up against familiar foes in Australia in the final of the Commonwealth Games 2022 at the Edgbaston in Birmingham. Winning the toss, Australian captain Meg Lanning decided to have a bat first.
There were cheers of joy when Alyssa Healy, tormentor of India in the 2020 T20 World Cup final, lost her wicket early after being caught leg before by Renuka Singh. However, Beth Mooney and skipper Lanning kept India from making further inroads for a long while.
Mooney slammed 61 runs off 41 deliveries while Lanning added 36 runs off 26 balls before being run out by Radha Yadav. Ashleigh Gardner and Rachael Haynes also provided some impetus in the lower order but the Indian bowlers largely saw off the threat to restrict them to a total of 161/8 after 20 overs. With a spell of 2/25, Renuka Singh was the pick of the bowlers for the Women in Blue.
India endured a torrid start to their run-chase after losing both openers Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana inside the first three overs and with just 22 runs on the board. The onus fell on the shoulders of Harmanpreet Kaur, who is no stranger to playing party-spoiler for Australia. Her knock against the reigning T20 world champions during the semi-final of the 2017 World Cup is one of the greatest white ball innings in women’s cricket.
The Indian captain tried pulling off something similar this time around as she started planning the long haul along with Jemimah Rodrigues. The duo stitched a fabulous 96-run partnership which brought India back into the game and offered a realistic chance of winning the final.
However, all the good work was left undone in a matter of minutes as Australia clawed their way back and triggered a batting collapse. Jemimah Rodrigues got bowled by Megan Schutt which brought Pooja Vastrakar to the crease. Vastrakar took too long to get going which saw the run rate continuously spiking up. Frustrated, she decided to play the big shot but was unable to time it and got out.
Harmanpreet Kaur, batting at 65, was the next to walk after failing to time a scoop shot that got caught by wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy. Deepti Sharma hit a few boundaries to keep India’s hopes up but walked back to the pavilion after getting caught LBW by Schutt.
Sneh Rana, Radha Yadav, and Meghna Singh were all run out in clumsy fashion trying to take quick singles to keep up with the asking rate while Yastika Bhatia, India’s last remaining wicket, got caught LBW by Jess Jonassen in the final over while trying to play an audacious reverse sweep.
The Women in Blue got bowled out for 152, thus losing the final by nine runs and settling for a silver in the Commonwealth Games 2022.