Deepti Sharma etched her name in the history book on Wednesday by becoming the first Indian cricketer, male or female, to get to 100 wickets in the T20 International format.
Playing in India’s second group game at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa, the off-spinning all-rounder bowled a game-changing spell against the West Indies to help her team register a six-wicket win.
After removing West Indies skipper Hayley Matthews early, India were under pressure as Stafanie Taylor and Shemaine Campbelle built a solid 73-run partnership for the second wicket. After 13 overs in the innings, it seemed the Windies would go on to post a formidable total. But that’s when Sharma returned to the attack for her third over and turned the match on its head.
The 25-year-old, who had conceded just eight runs in her first two overs, dismissed both the set batters in one over to trigger a collapse as West Indies went from 77/1 to 115/6. She returned with figures of 3/15 from her four overs, getting to her 100th T20I wicket by dismissing Aly Fletcher in the last over of the innings.
India were set a target of 119 and lost the wickets of Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues early. Shafali Verma got 28 but once she was dismissed in the eighth over, India found themselves in a spot of bother. However, skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (33 off 42) and Richa Ghosh (44* off 32) took over from there to add a 72-run partnership for the fourth wicket as India went on to make it two wins in two games.
As good as Kaur and Ghosh’s knocks were, though, it had to be said that Sharma’s third over was the turning point of the match. Had she not removed the well-set Taylor and Campbelle in the same over, the West Indies could well have posted a much bigger total and the complexion of the match could have been a lot different.
“I feel really good,” said Sharma in the post-match presentation ceremony. “We were able to apply all the plans we discussed in the meeting. I am happy with the achievement (of becoming the first Indian to 100 T20I wickets). My focus is on the rest of the World Cup games.”
Most wickets in women's T20Is
|A Mohammed (WI-W)||117||125||5/10||17.64||5.57||18.9||4||3|
|Nida Dar (PAK-W)||127||121||5/21||18.39||5.46||20.1||1||1|
|EA Perry (AUS-W)||135||120||4/12||19.02||5.84||19.5||4||0|
|S Ismail (SA-W)||109||117||5/12||18.72||5.73||19.5||0||2|
|M Schutt (AUS-W)||92||117||5/15||16.17||6.19||15.6||3||1|
|KH Brunt (ENG-W)||109||112||4/15||18.76||5.51||20.4||1||0|
|SFM Devine (NZ-W)||117||110||4/22||17.45||6.34||16.5||1||0|
|A Shrubsole (ENG-W)||79||102||5/11||15.55||5.95||15.6||2||1|
|DB Sharma (IND-W)||89||100||4/10||19.07||6.09||18.7||1||0|
|Poonam Yadav (IND-W)||72||98||4/9||15.25||5.75||15.9||3||0|
It wasn’t the first time Sharma performed well against the West Indies. The off-spinner now has 17 wickets in just eight matches against the 2016 T20 World Cup champions.
Deepti Sharma's team-wise record in T20Is
|v AUS WMN||18||21||2/24||21.33||7.32||17.4||0||0|
|v BDESH WMN||4||2||2/13||41.50||6.22||40.0||0||0|
|v Barbados Wmn||1||0||-||-||3.00||-||0||0|
|v ENG WMN||15||13||2/24||31.23||7.22||25.9||0||0|
|v IRE WMN||1||2||2/15||7.50||5.00||9.0||0||0|
|v Mal Women||2||1||1/10||14.00||2.80||30.0||0||0|
|v NZ WMN||6||6||2/26||25.33||6.33||24.0||0||0|
|v PAK WMN||5||5||3/27||24.40||6.42||22.8||0||0|
|v SA WMN||11||13||3/8||17.92||6.47||16.6||0||0|
|v SL WMN||14||13||2/15||19.76||5.24||22.6||0||0|
|v Thai Women||3||7||3/7||4.71||2.75||10.2||0||0|
|v UAE Women||1||0||-||-||3.66||-||0||0|
|v WI WMN||8||17||4/10||7.47||4.37||10.2||1||0|
Since the start of 2022, her bowling numbers have seen a remarkable improvement. She managed to pick just five wickets in nine games in 2021 but since then, she has performed consistently and transformed into India’s premier wicket-taking bowler.
Deepti Sharma's year-wise record in T20Is
In the post-match press conference after India’s victory against the West Indies on Wednesday, India captain Kaur spoke about Sharma’s improvement as a bowler in recent years.
“Well, when you play too many T20s, you feel like you want to try too many things. And that’s what I felt she (Sharma) was doing when she was not getting wickets,” said Kaur. “We had that talk that you are a spinner, you have to trust your skill rather than just thinking about if you can bowl yorkers, faster ones. I know that’s a plus for you, but spin is your priority. And that’s why we did work in the nets where she could focus on spinning the ball more rather than just look for some extra things like faster ones or wide yorkers and stuff like that.
“I think that’s really helping her now, her focus is more on spinning the ball. I think that is the reason she’s getting results. Because as a spinner when you’re spinning the ball, the batter is always thinking it’s not that easy to hit the ball. So I think that was the key point which she understood, that if she can spin the ball it is more dangerous than the other stuff.”
Kaur even reflected on the positive change in Sharma’s personality as she has gained more experience in international cricket. The skipper was effusive in her praise and explained why the all-rounder is a major asset in the team.
“First, she (Sharma) used to be reserved, but now she talks a little and helps out other players too. You won’t see much of her on social media, but her self-belief and confidence is very high. She knows her strengths, her weaknesses, what she needs to put into the match,” the skipper added.
“She is someone who can very quickly adapt to the situation. Like you see right now, in the last match her bowling was not very good, and today to make a comeback and get the player of the match award, that shows how mentally strong she is and how easily she can adapt to a situation. She is someone who as a captain I can trust and she has improved in her batting as well day by day. She is finishing games in the low order. As a player, she is showing what we have been expecting from her for a long time. She is someone who can give you all three things – fielding, bowling and batting – and the team depends on her a lot. It feels good that she is improving day by day as a cricketer and her performance is very important for the team.”
Most wickets for India in women's T20Is
Most wickets for India in men's T20Is