Another match, another struggle for West Indies batters to figure out the Indian spin puzzle.
Harmanpreet Kaur and Co took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match T20I series after another clinical bowling display. The venue was different from the first T20Is but Guayana did not see a change in fortunes from St Lucia for the hosts.
If they were blown away by India’s batting performances in the first two matches, the third match of the series saw West Indies being bowled out for their lowest ever T20I score on a turning track at Providence Stadium. India made the run-chase more interesting than they ought to have but it was, ultimately, just delaying the inevitable win.
Here are the talking points from the third match which India won by seven wickets and 20 balls to spare.
Spin to win
(Not) Breaking news. Indian spinners are good.
If Deepti Sharma hogged the limelight in the second match of the series, this time it was a more familiar collective effort. Right from the instance Anuja Patil almost got a wicket in her very first over (Poonam Yadav dropped a sitter) and Radha Yadav followed it up with an over where she got the ball to turn sharply, it was evident that the spinners would dominate the proceedings for India. So much so that 18 out of the 20 overs were bowled by spinners with Pooja Vastrakar bowling the other two.
If one had to pick a winner from that group of spinners, Radha Yadav would probably be the choice. Her first two overs saw not a single run being conceded off the bat (just a wide that she bowled first up that went for two). She did not concede a single boundary in her four overs and tossed the ball up beautifully. But for her captain dropping a sitter, she would have had even better bowling numbers.
And speaking of numbers, if ever stats were indicative of the full story of a cricket match, this would be it:
Indian spinners’ bowling figures in the third T20I against West Indies:
Radha Yadav: 4-2-6-2
Poonam Yadav: 4-1-8-1
Deepti Sharma: 4-0-12-2
Anuja Patil: 4-0-13-1
Harmanpreet Kaur: 2-0-11-1
It did not matter what the name of the bowler was: West Indies simply did not have an answer to any of them.
West Indies bamboozled
And while it is great from an Indian perspective to see the spinners continue to impressive away from home, from a neutral point of view, the West Indies batting effort was, at times, painful to watch.
At the 10-over mark of their innings, West Indies score was 26/3. They were scoring at less than 3 RPO in a T20 and yet, Chedean Nation actually let go of two balls outside her off-stump, not attempting a shot. Those two moments summed up just what a bizarre approach this was by the West Indies players.
Sure, the pitch was helping spinners but it was no minefield. It was no dust bowl. But the West Indies batting lineup barely showed any intent in the powerplay after Hayley Matthews departed. She hit a lofted four by using her feet against Patil and that would be the only boundary the Windies scored in the powerplay. There were sweep shots galore but very few with intent. There was hardly any rotation of strike when the pressure was building.
In captain Stafanie Taylor’s absence, the West Indies batting lineup has looked like a deer caught in headlights. One of the most exciting T20 lineups not too long ago, this team has looked a shadow of their selves on this tour.
Jemimah Rodrigues growing in stature
During the recent One-Day International series at home against South Africa, rookie opener Priya Punia (filling for Smriti Mandhana) made an interesting observation while receiving the player of the match award for her maiden fifty. She thanked her “senior partner” Jemimah Rodrigues for helping her settle down early on in the innings.
Senior. At 19 years of age.
Rodrigues, indeed, has come a long way from being a prodigy. Not for the first time in her young international career, the Mumbai batter showed maturity beyond her years and guided India’s run-chase when the in-form openers were dismissed in the powerplay.
On a night when 15 women made it to the middle to bat and no one else crossed 11 runs, Rodrigues made 40 off 51 balls to make sure India got home without any wobbles. She had an early reprieve when Sheneta Grimmond dropped a simple return catch but, like good players do, she made the most of her chance and played some gorgeous shots...if the hosts need lessons on how to face spin using the feet, Rodrigues’ match-winning cameo is a must-watch for them before they come out to bat next time.
The moment that summed up her importance to the side came when captain Kaur was the third Indian to be dismissed: she started walking away to the pavilion but took a moment to talk to her younger teammate, and presumably, tell her to stay till the end. Kaur would have known that this Indian middle-order is susceptible to pressure and Rodrigues paid heed to her captain’s words to make sure she kept the scoreboard ticking, fittingly hitting the winning shot.