Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
USA avoided last place at the 2019 Women's T20 World Cup Qualifier with a tense six-wicket win over Namibia at Arbroath Cricket Club.
By Peter Della Penna in Arbroath, Scotland (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna)
Opener Nadia Gruny top-scored for the second-match in a row, making 33 to lead a successful chase of a target of 85 as USA defeated Namibia by six wickets with seven balls to spare on Saturday at Arbroath Cricket Club. Offspinner Samantha Ramautar was named Player of the Match for returning figures of 2 for 10 in four overs to help restrict Namibia after USA sent them in at the toss. The victory ensured USA avoided last place, ending the tournament with one win and fours losses to claim 7th in the eight-team Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier while Namibia finished winless to claim the wooden spoon.
Though the target was not overwhelming, Namibia fought bravely to nearly steal the match from USA backed by aggressive and shrewd captaincy from Yasmeen Khan. USA got off to a rapid start at 33 for 1 after four overs – the lone setback a return catch by Erica Rendler to Sune Wittman in the second over for 4 – aided massively by nine wides and two no balls in the stretch. But a maiden in the sixth from first change seamer Wilka Mwatile brought disciplined pressure to help string together a sequence of 15 straight dot balls as USA racked up a whopping 30 scoreless deliveries by the end of the Powerplay.
Yasmeen continued to keep the field packed in the ring once the seventh over hit, only keeping a deep square leg in place for medium pacers Mwatile and Irene van Zyl as USA struggled to rotate the strike. That struggle deepened in the 10th over when spin was introduced in the form of Victoria Hamunyela and Didi Foerster. The field stayed packed and USA could not pierce the ring as Hamunyela’s first delivery began another streak of 16 consecutive dot balls. From 50 for 1 in nine, USA’s innings stalled and the pressure finally resulted in USA cracking as Sindhu Sriharsha mistimed a sweep off Foerster to Wittman at square leg for 11.
In a massive moment in the chase, the dot ball streak was broken when wicketkeeper Kayleen Green committed a mental blunder by reaching in front of the stumps to collect a ball that beat the edge of Gruny, who had been unable to score for 10 straight deliveries. Umpire Sue Redfern called a no ball while standing at square leg for Green’s infraction. Gruny then seized on the free hit by thrashing a length ball to mid-on, with a misfield turning a single into three runs.
Shebani Bhaskar got off the mark on the next ball courtesy of another misfield by mid-off and was nearly caught in the next over off Foerster when a pull went just wide of midwicket for a boundary. Still Yasmeen kept the field in to tempt the USA pair to hit over the infield and it brought about the end of Gruny’s innings when she miscued a drive in the air to Sylvia Shihepo to make it 68 for 3 in 15 overs.
Even though just 17 were needed off the last five overs with seven wickets in hand, USA continued to look shaky. New batter Sugetha Chandhrasekar survived a pair of strong lbw shouts in the 17th and 18th after missing heaves across the line to a pair of knee high full tosses. But more pressure was released when Bhaskar’s drive off the extremely disciplined Mwatile went through the legs of Adri van der Merwe at extra cover, turning a dot ball into a desperately needed boundary for USA.
With six needed to win off the last two overs, Bhaskar’s innings finally ended when she was runout off the first ball of the 19th taking on Mwatile at mid-off, who charged in and fired a direct hit from eight yards at the non-striker’s end. It brought Geetika Kodali to the crease and after a single from Chandhrasekar, the 15-year-old survived her first ball when a skied pull swirled over midwicket where Yasmeen struggled to locate the ball running back before putting down a difficult chance tumbling backward. Kodali alertly ran two off the drop, then struck another double straight down the ground off the next ball to level the scores before a single to mid-on ended the match.
Foerster ended with Namibia’s best figures claiming 2 for 9 in three overs while Yasmeen was Namibia’s most economical on the day, returning 0 for 4 from two overs bowled at the death. Hamunyela was curiously not bowled out though, ending with 0 for 9 from three despite starting with 10 straight dot balls and 15 dot balls in all as the majority of her runs nine runs conceded came from fielding miscues.
Namibia’s day got off to a disastrous start when Yasmeen ran out van der Merwe off the first ball of the second over. Yasmeen drove hard straight into van der Merwe’s pads at the non-striker’s end but took off immediately despite the fact that van der Merwe had lost her balance and fallen over while trying to avoid the drive. Yasmeen continued running anyway as bowler Lisa Ramjit reached down to pick up the ball from where it had come to a rest next to van der Merwe and coolly threw to Sriharsha over the stumps at the striker’s end with Yasmeen having reached the non-striker’s crease as van der Merwe had been unable to recover from falling over outside her crease.
Ramjit struck on the first ball of the fourth over as well when Green was bowled with a loose drive for 2 to make it 6 for 2. But Arrasta Diergaardt’s arrival sparked a 44-run partnership for Namibia. The bulk of those runs came in the sixth over when Kodali was introduced into the attack and gave up 19 runs, including three boundaries to Diergaardt. The teenager wasn’t helped by her fielders though, as the third boundary in the sequence went straight through the legs of Akshatha Rao at fine leg.
A straight drive for four by Yasmeen off Onika Wallerson came off the third ball of the seventh and Namibia’s 50 came up to end the ninth when Sriharsha conceded two byes off Ramautar. But Namibia’s innings began to unravel with an impetuous swipe across the line by Yasmeen to be bowled by Rao for 16 off 17 balls. Ramautar then built off that by bowling Wittman with a full delivery for 7 in the 13th before van Zyl chipped a return catch at chest height to Ramautar in the 15th for 7 as well, making it 68 for 5.
Still Diergaardt continued to push forward, striking her fifth boundary off Farooq as part of a 10-run 19th over to bring Namibia’s innings back to live. But Foerster committed a major blunder off the first ball of the final over, failing to respond to Diergaardt’s call for an easy single to extra cover. Even after Bhaskar misfielded the ball on the edge of the ring, Foerster refused to leave her crease and Namibia’s set bat was runout for 33 after Bhaskar’s relay to Sriharsha. Mwatile came in at No. 8 and failed to score off her first two deliveries before skying a catch to Gruny at long-on. Foerster couldn’t get either of the final two deliveries away, resulting in a crucial wicket-maiden to Wallerson that was massive in the final margin.
Wallerson ended with 1 for 14 in her four overs while Ramjit ended with 1 for 10, making her the joint-most economical bowler for USA in the match along with Ramautar.
Scotland defeated Netherlands by 70 runs in the fifth place playoff in the afternoon at Arbroath. The Bryce sisters, Kathryn and Sarah, each scored half-centuries in Scotland’s total of 167 for 4 before Netherlands were bowled out for 97 in reply. Sarah was named Player of the Match after completing four stumpings to go along with her fifty.
Ireland easily swept aside Papua New Guinea in the third place playoff at Forfarshire CC, chasing a target of 86 in just 11.1 overs to win by eight wickets. Bangladesh then defeated Thailand by 70 runs in the tournament final. Sanjida Islam carried her bat for Bangladesh’s highest score in Women’s T20Is, ending with 71 not out. Thailand never made a serious attempt at chasing the target of 131, ending on 60 for 7. Thailand opening medium pacer Chanida Sutthiruang was named Player of the Tournament after finishing with a tournament-best 12 wickets.