Jemimah’s Gem to Slam Dunk-ley: All that happened in week 1 of the Women’s T20 World Cup
A week into Women’s T20 World Cup 2023, we have already witnessed surprises, upsets and a few usual results.
Result of the week: Sri Lanka stun South Africa
When Sri Lanka met South Africa for the last time before this T20 World Cup, they were bundled out for 46 runs and lost the game by 10 wickets. Their last win over South Africa had come in 2016, and they had not won a game in the country in ten years before the World Cup.
Worse, they had not played any international cricket since finishing runners-up in the Asia Cup in October.
Even when they got to 129 with the help of Chamari Athapaththu’s blistering 68, few gave them a chance to win. A couple of spilled catches and missing an easy run out in the 19th over did not help them either, but the hosts turned out to be even worse at handling the situation, and ended up losing by three runs.
New Zealand’s nightmare
Ahead of the tournament, Suzie Bates was 71 runs away from becoming the first ever woman to score 1,000 runs at the T20 World Cup. Two matches – and two ducks – later, she is still 71 away.
Her opening partner Bernadine Bezuidenhout returned to cricket only in September 2022. After a couple of years of battle with RED-S, this was supposed to be a fairytale return for the South Africa-born cricketer. However, things did not go her way either.
The newly appointed batting coach Dean Brownlie is still figuring out the right combination, but it looks too late for the White Ferns, who got out for 76 and 67 in their two matches.
The team has been plagued by myriad problems, from team selection to players’ form. Their chances of making it to the final four are almost over.
The Naseem-Maroof stand and a Jemimah gem
The India-Pakistan clash lived up to the hype.
The partnership between captain Bismah Maroof and Ayesha Naseem was the highlight of Pakistan’s innings. Until this game, Pakistan’s highest fifth-wicket partnership against India was 18. The duo added an unbeaten 81 runs off 47 balls. The best part of this stand was not Naseem’s boundaries but the fact that it featured only three dots.
The game was in the balance until the end, and it took a special effort from Jemimah Rodrigues to see off Pakistan. A year earlier, she had been dropped from the ODI World Cup team, and admitted to having gone went through a difficult phase.
Rodrigues was calm from the onset, even when India needed more than nine runs per over. In the end, her patience prevailed. She notched up a couple of boundaries, got to her half-century (53* from 38), and a massive celebration followed.
With that knock, she also became just the fourth woman to score a hundred T20I runs in South Africa.
Welcome back, Wareham
Georgia Wareham had not played a T20 game since she underwent a knee surgery in 2021, and returned to the WNCL only last month. In her first game for Australia in a while, she responded with 3-20 against Bangladesh.
After replacing Jess Jonassen in the line-up that thrashed New Zealand, her first ball was a full toss that Shobana Mostary smashed to the boundary. However, Wareham got Mostary with the next ball, and rattled the middle stumps of Rumana Ahmed and Shorna Akter in the same over.
Wareham has a bowling strike rate of 13.5, the second-best amongst the bowlers with more than 35 wickets in women’s T20I. Only Leigh Kasperek has a better record than her.
Before the start of the T20 World Cup, England opted to open with Sophia Dunkley, and the move worked like a dream.
Dunkley mustered a couple of half-centuries in the warm-ups (59 not out in 19 balls, 60 not out in 38), and carried that form into the first game, ending with an 18-ball 34. It needed a special effort from Chinelle Henry to dismiss her.
Richa ‘The Finisher’ Ghosh
Having done it all for Bengal, Ghosh is doing it now for India. She is unbeaten in the tournament, with two key innings at the end.
Her 20-ball unbeaten 31 helped India and Rodrigues see off Pakistan. She assumed a different role against the West Indies. Coming in at 43-3, she added an important partnership with captain Harmanpreet Kaur, and stayed put to finish the game after Kaur got out. The duo added 72 for the fourth wicket.
Notably, in the warm-up match against Bangladesh, Richa Ghosh was batting on a 42-ball 38 before smashing 6, 1, 6, 6, 1, 6, 1, 6, 6, 1 to finish on 91 not out from 56 balls.
In 2022, Marufa Akter was named the most promising player at the Dhaka Premier Division Women’s Cricket League, and validated the verdict with consistent performance throughout the year.
In the T20 World Cup match against Sri Lanka, she grabbed three wickets and stunned everyone by bowling eight straight dots. Against Australia, she dismissed Beth Mooney. From working on father’s farm to dismissing Mooney, it has been quite a journey.
One day and two records
When Deepti Sharma rattled the stumps to dismiss Afy Fletcher, she became the first Indian to the 100-wicket milestone in the format. She currently stands in ninth position in the overall list. Interestingly, she crossed Stafanie Taylor’s tally of 98 wickets by trapping her in front of the stumps.
Later on Wednesday night, Muneeba Ali became the first Pakistani woman to score a T20I hundred, and is the only woman to score a ton and also complete two keeping dismissals in the same match.
Ali went on to dedicate her player of the match award to her captain and her teammates.
Spin over pace
Spinners have dominated the World Cup so far. Three spinners – Ash Gardner, Nashra Sandhu, and Sophie Ecclestone – are at the top of the wickets chart with six wickets apiece, while Lea Tahuhu (5) is the only pacer in the top five.
Overall, spinners have taken 71 wickets, while pacers have bagged only 41.
After ten matches, we have four unbeaten teams – Australia and Sri Lanka from Group 1, and England and India from Group 2. It will be interesting to see who carries on with a cent percent record.