Isani Vaghela stepped up with the ball when it mattered most for USA, ending with her second four-wicket haul of the tournament in a 30-run win over Canada. The 17-year-old Vaghela finished up tied for most wickets overall with 15 to claim the Best Bowler Award at the end of the event.
Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna in Los Angeles (Twitter/X @PeterDellaPenna)
A pair of teenagers ended the tournament just the way started it for USA Women as Player of the Match Disha Dhingra produced another half-century in the first innings before Isani Vaghela picked up another four-wicket haul to help cement a 30-run win over Canada in the final match of the 2023 ICC Americas Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier on Monday at Woodley Park in Van Nuys, California. Canada needed to chase USA’s first innings total of 128 in 12.2 overs in order to not only force a tiebreak between both teams at 5-1 but also surpass USA on the net run rate tiebreaker. However, Canada only managed to reach 63 for 3 by that stage of the match, ensuring that USA would win the tournament regardless of the end result, though the hosts eventually restricted Canada to 98 for 7 off their full 20 overs.
It's the second straight tournament title win for USA Women following up their victory at Mexico City in 2021. But this time they did it as undefeated champions ending with a 6-0 record after sweeping the double round-robin draw against Argentina, Brazil and Canada. USA will be joined at the 10-team ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Global Qualifier in early 2024 by Full Members Ireland and Sri Lanka, Asia representatives Thailand and the UAE, Vanuatu from East Asia-Pacific, Europe representatives Netherlands and Scotland, as well as two more teams yet to be decided at the ICC Africa Regional Qualifier in Uganda which is scheduled to be held in December.
Canada won the toss and elected to bowl first with an eye to restrict USA to as low a total as possible knowing that they would need to chase whatever target USA set in approximately 12 to 13 overs depending on USA’s final total. But after a lackluster fielding effort a day earlier against Argentina, Canada once again struggled in the field as the opening combo of Dhingra and Gargi Bhogle added 60 across the first nine overs of play. Dhingra was strong through the off side, slicing a full toss over backward point in the second over for the first of her six boundaries and dominated scoring while Bhogle worked to rotate the strike. The stand finally ended one ball after the 10-over drinks break when Bhogle charged legspinner Mannat Hundal and was beaten in flight to go for 22.
But Dhingra teamed with Anika Kolan to continue motoring forward with a 44-run stand to take USA into the 19th over. Along the way, Dhingra picked out her favorite backward point region with her sixth four in the 15thover to bring up a half-century off 40 balls. The stand ended when Kolan was out for 20 on a failed charge to Divya Saxena, resulting in the second stumping of the day for USA to make it 105 for 2.
The final two overs saw plenty of action as Ritu Singh came to the crease and got off the mark by smashing her second ball for six straight back over Saxena’s head into the sight screen at long-off. But Saxena struck back on the next ball trapping Singh after an attempt to shuffle across her stumps and pull behind square resulted in being struck on the pads in front of off stump to make it 114 for 3. Dhingra shoveled the third ball of the 20th over from Saniyah Zia to Achini Perera at long-on for 58 to make it 122 for 4. USA Women’s captain Sindhu Sriharsha entered at No. 6 and pulled a full toss behind square for four off her first delivery before another attempted heave to a length ball saw her bowled to make it 126 for 5. Vaghela and Geetika Kodali ran two off the final ball to take USA to their end total of 128 for 5.
Saxena and Zia each claimed 2 for 16 off of two overs and three overs respectively. Hundal ended as Canada’s only other wicket-taker, finishing with 1 for 28 in four overs. Rabbjyot Rajput, Rhea Misra and Vijayani Vithanage combined for 0 for 50 in seven overs while Canada’s most economical bowler on the day was Amarpal Kaur, who returned figures of 0 for 12 in four overs making it the first time she failed to take a wicket in the tournament.
Knowing that Canada needed to score at more than 10 per over in order to win the tournament on the net run rate tiebreaker, USA stacked the field on the leg side in order to tie down the opening pair of Perera and Danielle McGahey. Canada offered a chance three balls in when Perera punched a full delivery from Aditi Chudasama to Kodali at cover on the edge of the ring where a low chance diving forward was shelled. USA also missed a chance to runout McGahey early in the third over but they would not have to wait much longer for another opportunity to come around as McGahey forced a heave to the leg side off a good length ball from Uzma Iftikhar and was bowled for 13.
Vaghela entered the bowling attack in the fourth over and was soon on a hat-trick for the third time in the tournament as the 17-year-old induced a feathered edge down the leg side by Perera for 3 before claiming the prized scalp of Canada captain Saxena, bowling her with a full delivery for a golden duck to make it 19 for 3. From that stage, Canada never showed any threat to chase the target. In spite of needing to maintain a double-digit scoring rate for every over, it took Canada until the 10th over to produce their first and only double-digit over of the chase.
Misra and Kaur combined for a 46-run partnership for the fourth wicket to take Canada through to the 12th over as the teenager Misra showed some promise for the future with her 31 off 37 balls including a trio of fours heaved over wide midwicket. Misra’s innings came to an end when she sliced Vaghela to Chudasama at backward point for 31 to make it 65 for 4 after 12. Kainat Qazi became Vaghela’s final victim of the day, bowled by a full delivery for 1 to make it 67 for 5 in the 14th.
The new ball pair of Chudasama and Kodali returned to take one wicket apiece at the death. Chudasama struck first in the 19th, getting Zia to heave a simple catch to Dhingra at long-on for 16. Three balls later, Kodali knocked back the stumps with a full delivery to dismiss Rajput for a second-ball duck to make it 95 for 7. Kaur and Sana Zafar added three more runs for Canada’s final total of 98 for 7. Kaur ended unbeaten on 27 off 33 after entering at No. 3, though she did not hit a single boundary in a situation where Canada desperately needed them.
Aside from Vaghela’s 4 for 16 off four overs, offspinners Iftikhar and Chudasama claimed figures of 1 for 13 and 1 for 20 off respectively off four overs apiece while Kodali ended with 1 for 17 off three overs. Singh and Suhani Thadani ended with 0 for 30 off a combined five overs as USA’s other bowlers on the day.
At the post-tournament presentation, Canada took two of the three main awards as Saxena was named Best Batter after finishing as the event’s leading scorer with 176 runs at an average of 34.80 and Canada’s only half-century of the tournament. Kaur was named Tournament MVP for her all-round display after finishing tied for first with 15 wickets at an average of 4.20 and a 3.20 economy rate to go along with 95 runs at an average of 23.75. USA’s Vaghela walked away with the Best Bowler Award after taking 15 wickets at an average of 4.33 and a tournament best economy rate of 2.82 among all bowlers who bowled at least one over per match.