All-rounder Pooja Vastrakar led from the front with a run-a-ball 96 and crucial late overs to help her side India D beat India A by 22 runs and storm into the Senior Women’s Challenger Trophy final in Vijayawada on Tuesday.
The final of the four-team tournament, to be played on Thursday, will be a repeat match between India D, who won all their league games, and India A, who advanced on better run rate than India B and India C with three teams tied at one win each.
India D scored 219 for 7 with Vastrakar’s help and India A could only reach 197 for seven in 50 overs.
Senior left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad bowled a miserly spell for India D, conceding just 20 runs in 10 overs and took a wicket.
Vastrakar also took a wicket after her match-winning effort with the bat and played a typically solid role on the field. India are looking for more power-hitters in the middle-order ahead of the ODI World Cup and Vastrakar enhanced her reputation on that front. Some of the sixes she hit were so cleanly struck that they comfortably cleared the ropes.
Vastrakar, who many thought should have been part of the Women’s Big Bash League after her impressive showing in Australia, has been in great form on return to domestic cricket. She is the third highest run-getter in the mini tournament and has also taken five wickets in three games.
V Chandu, who played for India B, is the leading wicket-taker in the competition so far with 10 wickets at an average of 11.
Harleen Deol, a regular in India’s T20 set-up, made her case for a comeback into the 50-over national side by scoring 181 runs in three games for India B. Kanika Ahuja has also impressed with the ball for India D, taking eight wickets in three games at an average of 15.
India B were led by Taniya Bhatia while India C’s captain was Shikha Pandey. All sides apart from Vastrakar’s India D managed just one win each in the tournament being played in two venues at Mulapadu. Many senior Indian cricketers, including those who were part of the WBBL (apart from Radha Yadav), are absent from the tournament where selectors would be keeping an eye on those who could complete India’s World Cup squad for New Zealand.
With PTI inputs
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