NEW DELHI: Pooja Vastrakar delivered a masterful bowling performance, propelling the Indian women’s cricket team to their first-ever Asian Games final with a resounding eight-wicket victory over Bangladesh in a one-sided semi-final match on Sunday.
Right-arm seamer Pooja Vastrakar, a late addition to the squad in place of Anjali Sarvani, delivered a career-best performance with figures of 4/17 in four overs. Her outstanding bowling led to Bangladesh being dismissed for a paltry 51 runs in 17.5 overs – their lowest-ever T20 score against India.
Vastrakar, alongside her youthful new-ball partner Titas Sadhu (1/10 in 4 overs), exploited the conditions and extracted maximum benefit from the pitch’s bounce. Bangladesh struggled to cope, with only their skipper Nigar Sultana (12) managing to reach double figures.
As it happened: India vs Bangladesh
The chase of 52 runs was a straightforward affair, accomplished in just 8.2 overs. Kanika Ahuja (1 not out) and Jemimah Rodrigues (20 not out) led India to victory, despite the early dismissals of skipper Smriti Mandhana (7) and Shafali (17).
This victory was also sweet revenge for the women’s team, who had to play without their regular captain, Harmanpreet Kaur, due to a two-match suspension. Harmanpreet was suspended following her public outburst and criticism of the quality of Bangladeshi umpiring during an away series a few months ago.
The Indian women’s team made a resounding statement with their dominant performance in the semi-final.
Pooja Vastrakar made an immediate impact, taking a wicket off the very first delivery of the match. Her well-pitched delivery with extra bounce forced Shathi Rani (0) to edge the ball to Richa Ghosh behind the stumps. In the same over, she dismissed Shamima Sultana with an off-cutter, leaving Bangladesh in disarray.
With three wickets in her first three overs, Vastrakar put India firmly in control. Titas Sadhu, who played a pivotal role in India’s U19 World Cup triumphs, bowled with pace and bounce, troubling the batters.
The partnership of Titas and Vastrakar yielded 18 dot balls each, putting Bangladesh under immense pressure. When the three spinners – off-spinner Deepti Sharma (0/4 in 2 overs), left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad (1/8 in 3.5 overs), and leg-spinner Devika Vaidya (1/0 in 1 over) came into play, India’s victory was all but sealed.
The ball gripped off the surface, offering significant turn, which further troubled the Bangladeshi batters. A couple of run-outs added to Bangladesh’s misery, completing India’s comprehensive victory and securing their place in the Asian Games final.
Brief Scores: Bangladesh 51 in 17.5 overs (Pooja Vastrakar 4/17) lost to India 52/2 in 8.2 overs (Shafali Verma 17, Jemimah Rodrigues 20 not out).
(With inputs from PTI)

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