For the second time in two days, 15-year-old Shafali Verma (69* from 35) starred for India as they took a 2-0 lead in the five-match Twenty20 International series against West Indies at St Lucia. Once again, it was a cruise for the visitors, reaching home by 10 wickets and 57 balls to spare.
With the absence of captain Stafanie Taylor, who was ruled out of the series, the West Indies wilted against the Indian bowling, particularly the spinners. They could only manage just two runs more than what they did just under 24 hours ago after stand-in captain Anisa Mohammed opted to bat first. Harmanpreet Kaur’s clever ploy to open with Deepti Sharma in the powerplay once again reaped rich dividends for India. After containing the Windies in the early overs, wickets tumbled.
Shikha Pandey removed Stacy Ann-King, who chipped the ball straight to Pooja Vastrakar at cover. Left-arm spinner Radha Yadav quietly went about with her task and picked up the second wicket, that of the dangerous Shemaine Campbelle for nought.
The scoring rate had taken a significant dent and after a laboured stay at the crease, Hayley Matthews’s frustrated heave took the ball straight to the waiting hands of Veda Krishnamurthy at long-on in the 12th over.
Despite Chedean Nation (32) and Natasha McLean’s best efforts, the hosts were unable to get any kind of momentum going in the innings. Harmanpreet brought Sharma on for a final salvo and the latter didn’t disappoint, removing the two well-set batters. The India all-rounder was on a hat-trick when Sheneta Grimmond’s slog went only as far as Jemimah Rodrigues at point.
Verma wasted no time and West Indies’s head dropped as early as the first over with the teenager getting four back-to-back boundaries off Chinelle Henry. Mohammed shuffled her bowlers searching for wickets but Verma’s boundary-hitting assault continued. Smriti Mandhana (30* from 28) was happy to play second fiddle.
Verma got to her fifty with a pull over square-leg for a six. West Indies’s fielding also left a lot to be desired as India’s firepower across departments was too good for them.
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