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Asian Games: Titas, Gayakwad, Smriti shine as India defend modest total to win Gold
Hangzhou: A fiery spell by Titas Sandhu and tight spin bowling from Deepti Sharma and Devika Vaidya helped India defend a modest total of 117 runs to secure the gold medal in the women's cricket tournament at the ongoing Hangzhou Asian Games, beating Sri Lanka in the final by 19 runs at Hangzhou on Monday.
With this, the Indian women's team has captured a Cricket gold medal in their first Asian Games outing.
The Indian women's team elected to bat first. Sugandika Kumari gave a big jolt to the Women in Blue, dismissing Shafali Varma for just nine runs. India was 16/1 in 3.4 overs.
After this, opener Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues rebuilt the innings. On what seemed like a tricky, slow surface, they both tested the patience of the Sri Lankan bowlers.
At the end of the powerplay, India was 35/1 in six overs.
At the end of 10 overs, India was at 59/1 with Mandhana 27*, and Rodrigues 22* unbeaten at the crease.
Inoka Ranaweera gave SL the much-needed breakthrough, getting rid of Smriti for 46 off 45 balls with four boundaries and a six. India was 89/2 in 14.5 overs and the 73-run stand between Mandhana-Rodrigues was over.
That wicket caused a collapse in the Indian innings as except for Rodrigues, who scored 42 in 40 balls with five fours, no other batter could stand tall against the Lankan side. India ended their innings at 116/7 in 20 overs.
Kumari (2/30), Ranaweera (2/21) and Udeshika Prabodhani (2/16) were among the wickets for Sri Lanka.
In the chase of 117 runs, Sri Lanka was troubled by medium-pacer Titas Sandhu, who dismissed the top order consisting of skipper Chamari Athapaththu (12), Anushka Sanjeewani (1) and Vishmi Gunaratne (0), reducing SL to 14/3 in 4.2 overs.
At the end of the powerplay, SL was 28/3.
Hasini Perera and Nilakshi de Silva had started to rebuild the Lankan innings, helping them cross the 50-run mark in 9.3 overs. But Rajeshwari Gayakwad turned the tide in India's favour by removing Hasini for 25 off 22 balls, with four boundaries and a six. SL was 50/4 in 9.5 overs.
From then on, the road to gold got tougher for SL, as spinners Deepti Sharma and Devika Vaidya restricted the run flow. But Nilakshi and Oshadi Ranasinghe fought back with some boundaries, leaving SL with 43 to get in the final five overs.
But Pooja Vastrakar, India's star in the semifinal with the ball, removed Nilakshi for 23 off 34 balls, ending a fighting 28-run partnership. SL was 78/5 in 16.1 overs.
Deepti also removed Ranasinghe, who played a fighting knock of 19 in 26 balls. SL was 86/6 in 17.4 overs.
Sri Lanka was left to make 30 in the final two overs.
Kavisha Dilhari was removed by Vaidya for five and Gayakwad removed Sugandika Kumari for 5. SL was 96/8 in 19.5 overs.
India managed to defend their modest total, restricting Sri Lanka to just 97/8 in 20 overs, winning the match by 19 runs.
Titas was the pick of the bowlers for India with 3/6 in four overs. Gayakwad took 2/20 in three overs. Vastrakar, Deepti and Vaidya got one wicket each.
Sri Lanka had to settle for a silver medal.
On the other hand, Bangladesh chased down a target of 65 runs set by Pakistan to capture the bronze medal.
Brief Scores: India: 116/7 in 20 overs (Smriti Mandhana 46, Jemimah Rodrigues 42, Udeshika Prabodhani 2/16) beat Sri Lanka: 97/8 (Hasini Perera 25, Nilakshi de Silva 23, Titas Sandu 3/6, Rajeshwari Gayakwad 2/20).