Asian Games 2023: India's Historic Victory in Women's Cricket Final
In a historic debut at the Asian Games, India's women's cricket team claims gold by defeating Sri Lanka in a thrilling final.
NEW DELHI: In a groundbreaking moment for Indian women's cricket, the Asian Games of 2023 witnessed a historic victory on Monday as the team, led by Harmanpreet Kaur, etched their names in the annals of the sport's history by clinching the gold medal. In a captivating final showdown, India triumphed over Sri Lanka, securing a 19-run victory that marked the pinnacle of their first-ever participation in the cricketing events of the Asian Games.
The Indian women's cricket team showcased their mettle with a splendid all-round performance in this prestigious tournament. Opting to bat first after winning the toss, India faced early challenges with the dismissal of the talented Shafali Verma. However, the resilient opening pair of Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues steadied the ship, rebuilding the innings with determination.
Inoka Ranaweera of Sri Lanka finally managed to break the partnership by dismissing Smriti Mandhana, who had amassed a commendable 46 runs off 45 balls, embellished with four boundaries and a six. At 89/2 in 14.5 overs, the 73-run partnership was severed, leading to a gradual collapse of the Indian innings. Despite Jemimah Rodrigues' valiant effort of 42 runs in 40 balls with five fours, the rest of the Indian batters struggled against the Sri Lankan bowlers, ultimately concluding their innings at 116/7 in their allotted 20 overs. Sri Lankan bowlers Kumari, Ranaweera, and Prabodhani played pivotal roles in restricting India's run flow, claiming vital wickets along the way.
The chase was on for Sri Lanka, but they found themselves in dire straits early on as medium-pacer Titas Sandhu wreaked havoc, removing the top-order batsmen, including skipper Chamari Athapaththu, Anushka Sanjeewani, and Vishmi Gunaratne, reducing Sri Lanka to a precarious 14/3 in just 4.2 overs.
However, Hasini Perera and Nilakshi de Silva displayed resilience and determination, orchestrating a rebuilding effort that guided Sri Lanka past the 50-run mark in 9.3 overs. Just as hope began to emerge for Sri Lanka, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, a key figure for India, intervened by dismissing Hasini for a commendable 25 runs off 22 balls, comprising four boundaries and a six. Sri Lanka's score stood at 50/4 in 9.5 overs.
Subsequently, spinners Deepti Sharma and Devika Vaidya tightened the noose on Sri Lanka, preventing easy runs. Nevertheless, Nilakshi and Oshadi Ranasinghe showed resilience by occasionally finding the boundary, leaving Sri Lanka with 43 runs to chase in the final five overs.
The Indian star, Pooja Vastrakar, who had shone in the semifinal with her performance with the ball, again rose to the occasion by removing Nilakshi for 23 runs off 34 balls, terminating a spirited 28-run partnership. At 78/5 in 16.1 overs, Sri Lanka faced an uphill battle.
Deepti Sharma, an integral part of India's bowling attack, went on to dismiss Ranasinghe, who had battled hard for her 19 runs in 26 balls. Sri Lanka found themselves at 86/6 in 17.4 overs.
Sri Lanka was left with the daunting task of securing 30 runs in the final two overs. However, they ultimately fell short by 19 runs, failing to reach India's total of 116 runs.
In a remarkable debut at the Asian Games cricketing events, India's women's cricket team etched their names in history books by clinching the gold medal. Their all-round prowess and unwavering determination culminated in a historic triumph, marking a momentous occasion for Indian women's cricket on the international stage.