India 75 for 3 (Mandhana 38, Harmanpreet 34*, Amin 2-10) beat Pakistan 72 for 7 (Mir 20*, Nahida 18, Bisht 3-14, Pandey 1-6)
With a direct entry into the final at stake, 69 dot balls, four boundaries and 72 for 7 is all Pakistan managed after electing bat against defending champions India. Four of the six frontline bowlers India employed till the halfway mark, claimed a wicket each in their first over. The outcome? Pakistan slumped to 36 for 4 and laboured to another 36 for 3 in the last ten. Then, India captain Harmanpreet Kaur sealed six-time winners’ seven-wicket win with a four, and Ekta Bisht bagged her third successive Player-of-the-Match award in as many appearances against Pakistan for her 3 for 14.
Setting the tone of the marquee clash, Shikha Pandey bowled opener Nain Abidi for a duck before her quick-bowling, new-ball partner Jhulan Goswami propped it up with a maiden. Two overs of spin followed during which offspinner Anuja Patil and left-arm spinner Bisht removed Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof and Javeria Khan for four runs each. A second over for Goswami – the fifth in the innings – was to be the last of pace in the first ten as offspinner Deepti Sharma had Nahida Khan stumped in her opening over too.
Pakistan struggled for momentum after the early collapse as wristpinner Poonam Yadav snaffled a return catch from pinch-hitter Nida Dar before Bisht completed her three-for off her remaining two overs. Pakistan’s only boundary since the fourth over came in the 20th over courtesy Diana Baig. The No.9 batsman kept Sana Mir company who farmed 20 off 38 balls in a bid to prevent her side from being bowled out.
India’s chase weren’t without any hiccups, though. Left-arm spinner Anam Amin dismissed Mithali Raj and Deepti Sharma for a duck each to leave India teetering at 5 for 2 inside three overs. A patient 65-run third-wicket stand between Harmanpreet and her deputy Smriti Mandhana took India to 70 for 3 before the other Pakistan left-armer, Nashra Sandhu, had Mandhana hole out for a 40-ball 38. Harmanpreet’s three fours in her unbeaten 49-ball 38 helped mop up the chase with 23 balls to spare.