West Indies took a 1-0 lead in the three-match One-day International series with a one-run win in what was a last-ball thriller at North Sound in Antigua on Friday. The three-match series is part of the ICC Women’s Championship, that determines automatic qualification for the 2021 World Cup.
On a night when many of the Indian viewers were left disappointed because of broadcast woes, the result was a surprising one for India and dealt a blow to their hopes of clinching a spot in the World Cup by avoiding qualifiers.
The YouTube link provided on the West Indies board’s channel was not made available in India, and many who had tuned in had no access to scorecards either. There was not a single update from the Twitter handle of BCCI women or their official website at the time of publishing.
Over to the match, Windies skipper Stefanie Taylor (94 and 2/30) starred with the bat and ball for her side while spinner Anisa Mohammed (5/46) was instrumental in picking up regular wickets as the visitors stumbled in a run chase that they were in control of till the 40th over.
Jemimah Rodrigues (41) and the gritty Priya Punia (75) had set a solid platform for India with a 78-run opening stand while chasing 226. After Rodrigues’s dismissal, Punia and senior batter Punam Raut took control of proceedings as wickets were hard to come by for West Indies during that stage. A calamitous mix-up ended Raut’s stay at the crease and a familiar sense of panic started to creep in when captain Mithali Raj was flummoxed by Mohammed.
Rookie medium pacer Shabika Gajnabi’s double strike – removing Harmanpreet Kaur and Taniya Bhatia in quick succession – turned the tide in India’s favour. The India wicketkeeper’s dismissal came from a peach of a yorker that was near unplayable. Deepti Sharma, despite getting a good start, holed out to Mohammed and the onus was on India’s shaky lower order to get across the finish line.
Mohammed and Taylor had other ideas and continued to pile on the pressure with dot balls and wickets. Shikha Pandey was superbly caught at long-on with Natasha McLean diving forward full length and making no mistake. With nine needed off the last over, Jhulan Goswami brought India closer to victory with a booming drive over extra cover. There was a moment of controversy too after it looked like Poonam Yadav had failed to get back to the crease on time while completing a run. The umpire ruled it not out, much to the bemusement of the West Indies fielders.
But a momentary lapse from the official wouldn’t stand in the way of Mohammed’s landmark day; she also completed 150 dismissals in ODI cricket. With two needed from the last ball, Yadav got a top edge and was caught at extra cover to bring a dramatic end to proceedings, and with it, broke West Indies’s losing streak against the Indians in the format.
Apart from her stunning effort at long on to dismiss Pandey, the big-hitting McLean also set a solid platform for the Windies with a half-century. Chedean Nation, making a return to the side, scored a career-best 43 to build a 78-run fourth-wicket stand with Taylor.
After Sharma had given the early breakthroughs, Pandey starred in the death overs. Taylor looked destined to complete a hundred with the last ball of the West Indies innings but Harmanpreet Kaur pulled off a spectacular effort inches away from the boundary. Unfortunately, it was Kaur’s brilliance with the willow that that India desperately needed on the day.