India choke Ireland for first semi-final entry since 2010

 

India cruised into the semi-finals of the Women’s World T20 after demolishing Ireland by 52 runs in Providence. The result meant that Group B’s top-two spots were decided, with Australia being the other semi-finalist. For Ireland, it was their third-straight loss of the tournament. The result also meant New Zealand and Pakistan were knocked out.
India opener Smriti Mandhana believes India’s total of 145 against Ireland was not good enough as their plan was to score at least 20 runs more.
“Definitely we were looking at 165 to 170,” she said after the match. “I didn’t think that 140 (145) was good enough because in T20s you can’t keep thinking about wicket and outfield because it’s such a fast game that, and we have 10 wickets to play. So I think we were aiming at 165 to 170, but unfortunately we could not do that.
“The first two matches I definitely felt we were good, but today I felt batting could have been better. But bowling and fielding I think we are really good, and we dominated the opposition.”
Mandhana went on to say that India’s batting line-up, especially the top four, could play a crucial role in the upcoming matches.
“Well, I think the first match was enough warning for everyone. Everyone has been in good form the last seven-eight months, so coming into the World T20, we all were really confident as a batting unit. So yeah, I think if our top four bat through the 20 overs, I think we will always be putting a good total up.”
On a day where torrential rain in the morning made batting conditions difficult, Mithali Raj battled her way to a 17th T20I half-century to help India post 145. With the outfield slightly wet and a damp pitch to boot, Raj anchored India’s innings till the 19th over, collecting four fours and a six in her 56-ball 51.
Openers Smriti Mandhana (29-ball 33) and Raj added 67 after Ireland asked India to bat. This partnership gave India a platform that allowed young Jemimah Rodrigues (11-ball 18) to inject some momentum. But a flurry of wickets in the middle overs forced India to lose their way and eventually limited their surge in the death overs. Kim Garth, the medium-pace bowler, was the pick of the Ireland bowlers, dismissing Raj and Mandhana to finish with 2 for 22.
The lack of pace from the Ireland bowlers forced Raj to reply on late dabs and glances. Later in the game, there was an injury scare when she hurt her knee while diving at square leg. But at the end of the game Raj, who was named Player of the Match, put it down to just a minor niggle and hoped to be fit for the Australia game on Saturday.