Spinners, Renuka, Smriti help India clinch seventh Women's Asia Cup title, outplay Sri Lanka by eight wickets
Sylhet (Bangladesh), October 15, 2022
The spinners and Renuka Thakur came up with a stellar show in restricting Sri Lanka to a lowly 65/9, before Smriti Mandhana smashed an unbeaten 25-ball fifty to help India clinch their seventh Women's Asia Cup title, outplaying Sri Lanka by eight wickets in the final at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium on Saturday.
On a pitch tailor-made for spinners to excel as the ball kept low and turned square, pacer Renuka Thakur shined with 3/5 in three overs while Rajeshwari Gayakwad (2/16) and Sneh Rana (2/13) had economical spells apart from Deepti Sharma conceding just seven runs in her four overs to keep Sri Lanka to 65/9.
In reply, Smriti played a stunning knock and finished it off in style with a six over long-on for an unbeaten 51 off 25 balls, laced with six fours and three sixes, to complete the chase with 11.3 overs to spare, in an innings where the rest of the Indian batters made 20 off 26 balls.
Electing to bat first, Sri Lanka had a horrendous start as captain Chamari Athapaththu ran herself out for a non-existent single in the third over. In the next over, Renuka broke the back of Sri Lanka's innings by taking out Harshitha Madavi and Hasini Perera apart from another terrible run-out of Anushka Sanjeevani.
Renuka got her third wicket in the final over of power-play when Kavisha Dilhari missed a swipe across the line and was clean bowled to leave Sri Lanka at 16/5 in power-play.
Post power-play, Rajeshwari and Sneh compounded Sri Lanka's misery by sharing four wickets between themselves to keep them to 65/9.
Only Inoka Ranaweera (18 not out) and Oshadi Ranasinghe (13) could reach double figures for Sri Lanka in a disappointing batting show.
In reply, Smriti began with a punchy drive through extra cover off Sugandika Kumari.
She then danced down the pitch to loft Oshadi inside-out over extra-cover and then followed it up with a pull through square leg. After Smriti lofted Inoka for a clean six over long-on, Shafali Verma tried to do the same, but came down the pitch too early and was beaten by turn as well as extra bounce to be stumped easily.
In the next over, Jemimah Rodrigues danced down the pitch early, but the ball kept low and went past her to hit the base of off-stump. The fall of back-to-back wickets had no effect on Smriti, who punched past a leaping cover and crunched through the gap off Kavisha for successive boundaries.
On a pitch where batters struggled to do well, she was hitting boundaries with immaculate ease. Smriti danced down the pitch again to lift Inoka over mid-off and thumped Oshadi over long-on to take a brace of fours. She finished off the chase and got her fifty by smacking a massive six over long-on off Oshadi for India to be Asia Cup 2022 champions.
Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 65/9 in 20 overs (Inoka Ranaweera 18 not out, Oshadi Ranasinghe 13; Renuka Thakur 3/5, Sneh Rana 2/13) lost to India 71/2 in 8.3 overs (Smriti Mandhana 51 not out, Harmanpreet Kaur 11 not out; Inoka Ranaweera 1/17, Kavisha Dilhari 1/17) by eight wickets.