India continued their perfect start to the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 with a composed six-wicket victory over the West Indies in Cape Town.

In the other match of the day, Muneeba Ali’s century powered Pakistan to a 70-run victory over Ireland for their first win of the tournament.

With India faltering at 43 for three chasing 118, Harmanpreet Kaur and 19-year-old Richa Ghosh put together an assured 72-run stand to carry them over them line.

Kaur was not there to see the chase through to its conclusion but Ghosh was, finishing things off in with a boundary as India reached the finish line with 11 balls to spare.

Opting to bat first, the Windies innings was barely underway before the first wicket fell, as Hayley Matthews was dismissed with the first ball of the second over.

It was a dream start for seamer Pooja Vastrakar, who claimed the scalp of the Windies captain after she looked to cut a delivery which was perhaps a touch short.

Shemaine Campbelle joined Stafanie Taylor at the crease and the pair battled through a tough couple of overs before flexing their destructive muscles.

Campbelle kickstarted the innings with a divine pull shot and Taylor also found her rhythm by the time Rajeshwari Gayakwad joined the attack, with both batters sweeping the left-armer to the rope.

Despite rotating her bowlers from over to over, a second wicket was not forthcoming for India captain Kaur, as the Windies passed 50 in the tenth over of the match.

The pair added 73 before Campbelle fell looking to reverse sweep Deepti Sharma, and Taylor joined her back in the pavilion just three balls later after a genius review from Kaur.

Things went from bad to worse for the Windies when Chinelle Henry was run out for just two as the innings suddenly threatened to peter out.

But Chedean Nation and Shabika Gajnabi arrived to steady the ship, carrying the team past 100.

There were no late fireworks however, as Sharma returned with an exemplary display of death bowling to restrict the 2016 winners to 118 while becoming the first Indian to take 100 T20I wickets.

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Shafali Verma made some early inroads following the interval, slapping a couple of fours through the covers in a productive first over.

She and the returning Smriti Mandhana needed a slice of good fortune to help them on their way, with both openers edging to the fence.

The introduction of Karishma Ramharack proved a turning point, with the off-spinner taking the crucial wicket of Mandhana before skipper Matthews dismissed Jemimah Rodrigues caught and bowled an over later.

Verma’s innings then came to a close when she hooked Ramharack to Afy Fletcher in the deep, but despite the flurry of wickets, India managed to stay ahead of the required rate.

Kaur and Ghosh gave themselves time before wrapping up the win in double quick time, though Kaur would fall with India four runs short of the target.

Young Ghosh was especially impressive, continuing the solid form she showed in India’s win at the ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup.

Pakistan cruise past Ireland

Muneeba Ali, wicketkeeper-batter became the first Pakistani woman to hit a hundred in a T20 international to propel her side to 165 for five.

In reply, Ireland stuttered as Nashra Sundhu picked up four wickets for 18 from her four overs as Orla Prendergast and Eimear Richardson’s contributions were not enough to stop their second defeat.

Opener Muneeba led the charge for Pakistan, scoring 33 of the 44 runs she and Javeria Khan put on for the first wicket before Javeria was run out by Mary Waldron.

Captain Bismah Maroof added only four runs to the 68 not out she made against India as Arlene Kelly’s fingertips just clung on to a low catch to reduce Pakistan to 55 for two.

The wicket brought out Nida Dar, who unusually played the patient role next to Muneeba, who brought up her half-century from 40 balls by surviving the first of two drops by Louise Little.

Muneeba began to put on show for the crowd, as she brought up Pakistan’s hundred by pulling Laura Delany on one knee for the second of back-to-back boundaries.

Nida was not to be out done, dancing down the wicket to smash Cara Murray for six, but she could only watch as Muneeba raced past her best score of 75 to become Pakistan’s highest scorer in T20Is.

With eight balls of the innings remaining, Muneeba brought up her first T20I hundred, the sixth scored in ICC Women’s T20 World Cups.

In an eventful over, the hundred partnership followed a ball later, before Muneeba departed for 102 from 67 off Leah Paul’s final delivery, and was welcomed back to the dug out with a standing ovation and a hug from a beaming Bismah.

Nida and Ayesha Naseem also fell in the final over but it did not remove the skipper’s smile as Pakistan set Ireland 166 to win.

Ireland lost steady wickets due lapses of concentrations, starting with Amy Hunter, who departed in the second over as Nashra took a fine catch over her shoulder.

Nida bowled four dot balls in a row and then had Gaby Lewis caught behind by Muneeba, who was never far from the action at Newlands.

Prendergast gave Ireland a platform with a fluent 31, including back-to-back boundaries, but her luck ran out when she was caught by Sadia Iqbal for Nashra’s second wicket.

Tuba Hassan then took her first World Cup wicket by dismissing Delany for eight.

Richardson was searching for a partner, but could only watch on as Little was stumped by Muneeba for three. However, unperturbed, the right hander started to find the boundary consistently, taking 16 runs off Aliya Riaz’s first over.

However, she was next to depart when attempting a scoop, before Javeria caught Waldron to give Nashra her best figures of four for 18 and reduce Ireland to 89 for seven.

Unlike Ireland, Pakistan were sharp in the field, as Kelly departed for just one thanks to a low catch from Aiman Anwer.

Murray and Paul were the final two victims as Pakistan wrapped up the victory with 21 balls remaining.

Scores in brief  

India beat West Indies at Newlands Cricket Ground, Cape Town by six wickets

West Indies 118 for 6 in 20 overs (Stafanie Taylor 42, Shemaine Campbelle 30; Deepti Sharma 3/15, Pooja Vastrakar 1/21)

India 119 for 4 in 18.1 overs (Richa Ghosh 44 not out, Harmanpreet Kaur 33; Karishma Ramharack 2/14, Hayley Matthews 1/12)

Player of the Match: Deepti Sharma

Pakistan beat Ireland at Newlands, Cape Town by 70 runs

Pakistan 165/5 in 20 overs (Muneeba Ali 102, Nida Dar 33; Arlene Kelly 2/27, Laura Delany 1/20)

Ireland 95 all out in 16.3 overs (Orla Prendergast 31, Eimear Richardson 28; Nashra Sundhu 4/18, Nida Dar 2/5)

Player of the Match: Muneeba Ali (Pakistan)

Content courtesy: ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 via Online Media Zone.