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India beat SL in opening match of Women's World Cup Qualifier 2017

Devika Vaidya, Mithali Raj set-up victory

India Women opened their account in the Women’s World Cup Qualifier, 2017 with a 114-run win in their opening game against Sri Lanka. Mithali Raj’s unbeaten 70 helped India set Sri Lanka a 260-run target after Deepti Sharma (54 off 96) and Devika Vaidya (89 off 103) set the stage for a formidable total with a 123-run stand. Spinners then bowled India to a thumping win. Ekta Bisht and Rajeshwari Gayakwad picked two wickets each while Deepti returned to claim one.

After electing to bat in SL, India lost Mona Meshram with just nine runs on the board. Trapped lbw by KDU Prabodhani on the last ball of the fifth over, the opener departed for six runs. Vaidya then joined Deepti Sharma in an effort to lay a platform for a solid total. The duo bided their time at the crease as they worked diligently to build a partnership. Having taken the measure of the conditions for a couple of overs, the pair began by running hard between the wickets and finding the gaps for a boundary at regular intervals to keep pressure from building.

Vaidya broke the shackles by dispatching LE Kaushalya to the fence twice in the 19th over and followed up with two back-to-back hits to the fence off AC Jayangani in the next to take India to 77 for one at the end of 20 overs.

After taking the team past the three-figure mark, both batters brought up their half-centuries as they worked to maintain a steady flow of runs. Deepti and Vaidya had set the stage for the batters to follow until SIP Fernando accounted for the opener.

At 132 for two, Mithali joined Vaidya in the 32nd over to help build on the foundation laid by the youngsters. The India captain took the attack to the opposition as she capitalised on the platform set by the Deepti-Vaidya partnership. Coming in to bat at No 4, she drove and punched the ball with panache as she plundered runs off the Sri Lankan attack.

Mithali then forged useful partnerships and kept the momentum in India's favour with a scintillating batting display. She added 49 runs for the fourth wicket with Vaidya, who had helped India, seize the advantage after a slow start to the innings until the No 3 bat was sent back by Prabodhani for 89. 

Mithali then continued to milk the SL bowlers with Harmanpreet Kaur for company. The pair upped the ante with a 63-run stand until the all-rounder was caught by the wicketkeeper off SS Weerakkody. Veda Krishnamurthy then joined her captain in adding 15 runs off the last eight deliveries to set SL a 260-run target.

The Indian spinners then kept the SL lineup on a tight leash to bowl their team to victory. Soni Yadav and Shikha Pandey opened the bowling with maidens and kept SL from opening their account for the first two overs. Biding their time at the crease, Jayangani and Kaushalya put up 42 runs until Ekta Bisht struck. Brought into the attack in the 12th over, the spinner responded with the wicket of Kaushalya. 23 runs later, Deepti caught Jayangani off her own bowling and Rajeshwari Gayakwad accounted for MDN Hansika in the next over. Left on 67 for three at the end of 25 overs, pressure began to mount for the Sri Lankans. The Indian attack continued to maintain a strangle hold on the SL lineup as they curbed the flow of runs and struck at regular intervals. 

With MADD Surangika run out, the fourth wicket stand was ended for 29 and 21 runs later GWHM Perera too was run out leaving SL on 116 for five. And off the next ball, M Shehani was bowled by Bisht. Couple of overs later P Weerakkody was run out by Gayakwad. The spinner then sent back S Weerakody a bit later to leave SL on 131 for eight. With the result a foregone conclusion Prabhodini and Fernando then extended the innings to see SL through to their quota of 50 overs. 

BCCI Staff

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Dhoni-Yuvraj will feed-off each other: Virat

Newly appointed India Captain Virat Kohli honoured to lead the team across all formats

MS Dhoni handed over the limited-overs captaincy reins to Virat Kohli a few days ago. Virat, who has been India’s Test Captain since December 2014, took up the challenge when it was unexpected and has proved his mettle not only with his cricketing acumen, but also with the willow. He is ready for challenges coming his way and is also honoured to be the full-time captain of Team India.

“I am pretty ready and accepting of taking captaincy in all three formats. I feel honoured. It just gives me more opportunities to take Indian cricket forward, which I think is the best thing to happen to anyone.”

The limited-overs captaincy transition has been smooth and Virat feels the same as he talks about the lessons that he has learnt from Dhoni, the captain. “I’ve learnt a lot from MS Dhoni ever since I came into the team. Many people have different styles of captaincy and I feel that he has been extremely successful because he was able to find the right balance in being offensive with his plans, as well as understanding the game and slowing it down when it was being dominated by the opposition.”

Elaborating further on Dhoni’s batting position in the team, Virat explained, “Now knowing that I’m willing to take up more responsibility, he can be more expressive. But I'm not saying that he will go out there and slog every ball. He’s a smart cricketer and we’ve all seen that.

“But, I think he’ll have a bit more freedom and a bit more assurance knowing that he doesn't have to think twice before attempting a big shot. With Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh) coming back into the squad as well in the middle overs, both of them will look to feed off each other’s’ momentum and can play the aggressive role.”

Virat’s success as the Test captain came under more limelight with India reclaiming their No.1 position in the ICC Test rankings. Ask him about his feelings going into the series as a full-time captain, he says, “The kind of cricket we have been playing and the manner in which we have performed in Test cricket, I think we can execute and replicate the same in the shorter formats as well. Like MS said, it’s easier to lead a side in ODIs than in Tests because in Tests you have to be constantly aware of not letting a session run away, because it can eventually impact the outcome of the Test match. In one-dayers, there is more scope for the opposition to commit mistakes, so you can come back into the game even without pushing too much. Honestly, I don’t feel any different. The only thing is I am excited that when I will walk out for the toss tomorrow, I will be India’s full-time captain. Apart from that, I don’t think anything has changed mentally or in terms of environment.”

With a solid top order and world class bowlers lower down in the line-up, Virat throws light on the concerns in the middle order, which were discussed during the team selection. “Yes, that is something we had discussed before picking Yuvi because we cannot have so much burden on MS alone in the middle order. I am willing to take up responsibility up the order, but there needs to be one more guy with him down the order in case the top order doesn’t fire. If the top order doesn’t fire, you are left with MS alone and he is guiding the youngsters often. It is fine if you have 15-20 games till a big tournament, but when you have only three games to prepare for a big tournament, I think you need to get all your resources in place. You need to make sure the guys who have been picked are in good form.”

Rajlaxmi Arora
Rajlaxmi Arora

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