Left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht came to the fore with a stellar show as India crushed Pakistan by 95 runs in a low-scoring encounter to record its third successive victory in the ICC Women’s World Cup here on Sunday.
After a couple of impressive outings by the batswomen in earlier matches, it was the turn of Ekta Bisht (10-2-18-5) & Co. to defend a meagre total of 169 and it bundled out the opposition for a mere 74 in 38.1 overs. India now has full six points from three games and is at the top of the table.
What looked like a sub-par score turned out to be a challenging one for Pakistani batters, who have never successfully chased more than 134 in a 50-over World Cup game.
They were all at sea against Ekta’s arm balls. She removed Ayesha Zafar (1), Sidra Nawaz (0) and Iram Javed (0) in her first four overs to wreak havoc.
All three deliveries were almost identical where the batters played for the turn but it didn’t turn much after pitching. She later came back to get a couple of wickets more.
Pakistan never recovered from that setback and opener Nahida Khan (23) and skipper Sana Mir (29) were the only ones to reach double figures for Pakistan.
Earlier, the Indians could only manage 169 for nine after electing to bat. The innings never gained momentum once the in-form Smriti Mandhana (2) was dismissed cheaply. Skipper Mithali Raj and deputy Harmanpreet Kaur could not also score too many runs, making it difficult for the other players to accelerate.
Opener Poonam Raut (48) consumed 72 balls, while Deepti Sharma fared no better playing 63 balls for a sedate 28. It was keeper Sushma Verma (33 off 35 balls), who used the long handle to get the team near 170-run mark.
The final six overs of the innings turned out to be productive for India as Sushma’s attacking display fetched 41 runs during that phase.
Left-arm spin duo of Nashra Sandhu and Sadia Yousuf inflicted the maximum damage, taking six wickets for 56 runs in the 20 overs that they bowled.
“I am proud of Ekta’s performance. Whenever she has been handed the new ball, she has performed. There were some anxious moments when we lost the top-order (while batting). The partnership between Sushma Verma and Jhulan Goswami towards the end was also important. When we got to a total of 169, I knew that if we could bowl well, it could be anybody’s game,” said Mithali as she praised Ekta.
“I don’t face much of a problem bowling with the new ball. The track spun more than it had during our game against England. Irrespective of how the pitch is, my job is to bowl and take wickets and I hope I can continue doing that for my team, ” said Ekta.