Participating in Cricket in the Asian Games for the first time, India made light work of their opposition in the final as they clinched their first-ever medal in the sport in the Asian Games.
After winning the toss, the Indian captain, who returned from serving a 2 game ban, elected to bat. India got off to a shaky start as Shafali Verma was dismissed in the 4th over. Jemimah Rodrigues and Smriti Mandhana steadied the ship for India, as both stitched together a stunning partnership of 73 runs from 66 balls. Smriti got dismissed on 46 while Jemimah managed to score 42 before getting dismissed. India’s middle order couldn’t quite contribute as they got dismissed in haste. From being at 89-1 by 14.4 overs, India were reduced to 116-7 by the end of 20 overs. In the last 32 balls, India managed to score 27 runs at the loss of 6 wickets.
But again, thanks to Smriti and Jemimah, India had enough runs on board to give bowlers a fighting chance. And the bowlers reacted pretty well, as the youngster Titas Sadhu, picked 3 wickets from 8 balls, to reduce Sri Lanka to a score of 14-3 after 4.2 overs. The Indian bowling lineup was in fine tune, as they kept on taking wickets at regular intervals. Sri Lanka managed to score just 97 runs, losing the match by 19 runs thanks to an incredible effort by the Indian bowlers.
After the match, the Indian captain was seen as quite ecstatic. She said, “Feels good winning the Gold Medal, this is something for which we came here, and now that we have achieved it we are feeling really great.”
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Thanks to their superior ranking as per the International Cricket Council, India qualified directly to the quarter-finals of the event. Their quarter-final was interrupted midway by the untimely rains. Furthermore, it was not possible to continue the game, hence India advanced to the semis based on their ICC ranking. In the semis, the Indian team decimated the Bangladesh side to progress to their first-ever finals in the Asian Games.
After winning the finals, the Indian vice-captain, Smriti Mandhana, who captained the side in the quarter-finals and the semi-finals in Harmanpreet’s absence, said, “This is very special. We have seen this on TV. When Neeraj Chopra won the Gold, I had a match in the Hundred, I had to leave in 15 minutes, I called the Team management saying I would come 10 mins late, I wanted to watch his last throw.
“The manner in which the National Anthem was played and India’s National Flag went up, I think it was pretty special and I had tears in my eyes. Really happy that we could contribute to the medal tally of the Indian contingent. Gold is Gold, we have many times in the World Cups and other tournaments have come close to winning, but we couldn’t give our best on that day so, really happy that we gave our best today.”
Indian batter Jemimah Rodrigues said that it was a nice experience to participate in the Asian Games, she said, “We have been playing a lot of cricket over the last 3-4 years, so I think it’s a great experience. And again to win gold for India, especially.”
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