Bangladesh confirmed the sneaking suspicion that they may well be the dark horses to win the inaugural ICC Under19 Women’s T20 World Cup with a seven-wicket upset of Australia in the opening match of the tournament.

Later in the day, Shafali Verma and Co notched up a superb win against South Africa after a brilliant run-chase.

Sri Lanka and UAE were the other winners on the day.

U19 Women’s T20 World Cup, IND vs SA as it happened: Shweta Sehrawat powers India to 7-wicket win

A dazzling 92 not out from Shweta Sehrawat spearheaded India’s dominant, seven-wicket victory over hosts South Africa, in their ICC Under19 Women’s T20 World Cup Group D clash at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Saturday afternoon.

Sehrawat only needed 57 balls, as she drilled 20 boundaries all over the park, to see India home with 21 balls to spare, and start their World Cup campaign in a most confident fashion.

Earlier, South Africa had won the toss and elected to bat first. That decision looked the correct one, especially after they took 20 runs off the opening over of the match. Elandri Janse van Rensburg (23 off 13 balls) smashed two sixes and two fours in the first over, as South Africa got off to a sizzling start.

Fellow opener Simone Lourens was the star for the home side, with a brisk 61 from just 44 deliveries. Madison Landsman finished the innings strongly, with a swift, unbeaten 32 from just 17 balls. She hit five boundaries and a six, as she raised South Africa to 166 for five in their allotted overs.

The response from India was emphatic. Sehrawat and Shafali Verma (45 from 16 balls) charged out the blocks, with the skipper drilling nine boundaries and a six in a super charged start. They put on 77 in seven overs, before Shafali fell to Miane Smit. Verma expressed her experience with distinction, showing why she is a formerly top-ranked batter in the MRF Tyres ICC Women’s T20I Player Rankings and why she is presently ranked sixth in the world.

Sehrawat then got into her stride, driving and pulling imperiously. South Africa tried several bowling options, but it was to no avail. India had an eye on a bonus-point to really put gloss on the finish, but they did lose two wickets as they closed in on victory.

The end came midway through the 17th over, with the winning runs fittingly smashed by the glittering Sehrawat. She cut a wide one away for four, and India’s warning shot was heard throughout the tournament.

On this form, they will take some beating.

Bangladesh stun Aussies

Having won both their warm-up matches against hosts South Africa and India, Bangladesh got the competition proper off to a sensational start by rocking Group A rivals Australia with a comfortable chase of the Aussies’ 130/5 in Benoni.

The four byes off Benoni-born, Australia captain Rhys McKenna’s fifth ball in the 17th over sparked off something approaching pandemonium as the heavily supported Bangladesh celebrated the victory wildly, but this was anything but a frenetic chase.

With McKenna having removed opener Misty Shaha with the first ball after the innings break, Bangladesh could easily have panicked in their approach.

But the benefit of having four players – captain Disha Biswas, Rabeya, Marufa and Dilara Akter – who have already played for the senior women’s team shone through in their response as player of the match Dilara Akter (40 off 42, seven fours) and Afia Prottasha (24 off 22) steadied the innings with a partnership of 66.

Chloe Ainsworth’s double strike after the drinks break had the potential to put the cat among the pigeons for Bangladesh, but two of the four Akters in the team, Sumaiya and Shorna (41 and 13 not out, respectively), saw them home with another partnership of 66.

As serene as their chase was, Bangladesh were aided and abetted by Australia, who passed up the chance of making a nervy procession of things by dropping both batters in the final partnership with the winning target edging into view.

With seven of the eight wickets to fall in the match going to pace bowlers, the Aussies may have also missed a trick by turning to their spinners – who were a touch wayward on the day –in the closing overs of the game.

Australia’s total of 130/5, which saw Claire Moore top score with 52 off 51 balls (seven fours), also had an inflated feel to it after some lusty hitting at the death by Amy Smith (16 off seven balls) and McKenna (12 off six) saw the Bangladeshis leak 28 runs in the final two overs.

Strong win for UAE

The United Arab Emirates made a strong start as they defeated Scotland by six wickets in their Group D clash at Willowmoore Park B Field in Benoni on Saturday.

The Emirates had sounded out a warning to the rest of the competition by winning their two warm-up games, and they built on that preparation by cruising to victory with 22 balls to spare.

UAE won the toss and elected to bowl first, and they managed to restrict Scotland to 99 for nine in their allotted 20 overs. Emma Walsingham (37 from 33 balls) was the mainstay in the tartan innings, striking five boundaries and one maximum.

Skipper Katherine Fraser chipped in with 17 from 22 balls, but the wickets fell regularly at the other end throughout the innings. Indhuja Nandakhumar (two for 20) struck twice in the first three overs of play, and UAE took control with aggressive fielding and accurate bowling.

Vaishnave Mahesh (two for 19) and Samaira Dharnidharka (two for 22) also got amongst the wickets, as UAE kept Scotland to just below three figures.

In pursuit of their target, Mahika Gaur was the cool head, clubbing 33 not out from 25 balls. She hit three boundaries and cleared the fence once, as UAE hurried to victory on a decent wicket.

Earlier, skipper Theertha Satish (27 from 24 balls) and Dharnidharka (23 from 27 balls) had kept the scoring rate up, to give UAE as solid platform to close out the chase. Maisie Maceira (two for 7) scooped two wickets in one over to raise some hopes of a challenge from Scotland, but Gaur then seized control of the innings with her clean ball striking.

The end eventually came in the 17th over, as the UAE made an ominous start to the maiden Under 19 Women’s T20 World Cup.

Sri Lanka impress

Sri Lanka translated the confidence gained from their warm-up schedule into an opening match victory over the United States of America.

Chasing a none-too-imposing target of 97 to win after the USA, who won the toss and elected to bat, had only made 96/9 in their innings, the Sri Lankans took the slow burn route in a steady chase that only concluded in the final ball of the 19th over.

Just as she had done in Sri Lanka’s seven-wicket win in the warm-up against Scotland on Wednesday, Vishmi Gunarathne was the steady influence with a measured captain’s knock of 34 not out from 40 balls (two fours) as she and Manudi Nanayakkara compiled an unbeaten partnership of 54 to guide their team home.

Nanayakkara, who scored 32 off 31 balls (one four and one six), would seal the deal with a six off the final ball of a 19th over – bowled by Ritu Priya Singh – which went for 16 runs.

Early wickets by Bhumika Bhadriraju (2/17) and Snigdha Paul (1/2 off three overs with 17 dot balls) gave the US hope of victory, but they never had enough runs to play with.

Having started promisingly with the opening pair of Laasaya Mullapudi and Disha Dhingra putting on a partnership of 28, the States fell into a depressing pattern of losing wickets regularly after the former was trapped in front for three by Dewmi Vihanga Wijerathne.

The steady procession between the wicket and the pavilion was such that only three batters made it into double figures, with Ritu Priya Singh top-scoring with 22 (23 balls, three fours) and Dinghra making a watchful 18 (26 balls) before being run out.

After starting the rot with her dismissal of Mullapudi, off-spinner Wijerathne would go on to be the pick of the Sri Lankan bowlers with pristine figures of 3/11 off her four overs, with Vidushika Perera chipping in with a couple of wickets of her own for 15.

As it turned out, that would prove to be half the job done.

Scores in brief: 

Australia vs Bangladesh:

Toss: Australia, who elected to bat.

Australia 130 for 5 in 20 overs (Claire Moore 52, Ella Hayward 35, Disha Biswas two for 25, Marufa Akter two for 29)

Bangladesh 132 for three in 17.5 overs (Sumaiya Akter 41 not out, Dilara Akter 40, Chloe Ainsworth two for 9, Rhys McKenna 1 for 31)

Bangladesh won by seven wickets, with 13 balls to spare. 

Scotland vs USA: 

Toss: UAE, who elected to field.

Scotland 99 for 9 in 20 overs (Emma Walsingham 37, Katherine Fraser 17, Vaishnave Mahesh two for 19, Indhuja Nandakhumar two for 20)

UAE 100 for four in 16.2 overs (Mahika Gaur 33 not out, Theertha Satish 27, Maisie Maceira two for 7)

UAE won by six wickets, with 22 balls to spare. 

USA vs Sri Lanka:

Toss: USA, who elected to bat.

USA 96 for 9 in 20 overs (Ritu Priya Singh 22, Disha Dhingra 18, Dewmi Vihanga Wijerathne three for 11, Vidushika Perera two for 15)

Sri Lanka 100 for three in 19 overs (Vishmi Gunarathne 34 not out, Manudi Nanayakkara 32 not out, Bhumika Bhadriraju two for 17, Snigdha Paul one for 2)

Sri Lanka won by seven wickets, with six balls to spare. 

India vs South Africa:

Toss: South Africa, who chose to bat first.

South Africa 166 for five in 20 overs ( Simone Lourens 61, Madison Landsman 32)

India 170 for three in 16.3 overs (Shweta Sehrawat 92 not out, Shafali Verma 45)

India won by seven wickets with 21 balls to spare.