Disha Biswas was Bangladesh's standout bowler, finishing with figures of 2 for 14, to help her side maintain an undefeated record as Group A leaders with a five-wicket win over USA Women's U19.
Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna in Benoni, South Africa (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna)
Bangladesh Women’s U19 captain Disha Biswas followed up 2 for 13 in the field with a crucial 10 in a tense chase to help her side past USA Women’s U19 by five wickets in the final Group A match for both sides at Willowmoore Park on Wednesday in the 2023 ICC Women’s U19 T20 World Cup in Benoni, South Africa. Biswas’ four-over spell included a maiden in which she helped restrict USA to 103 for 4 before Bangladesh chased down the target with 15 balls to spare.
The result means that Bangladesh clinched first place in Group A as well as a spot in the Super Sixes stage of the tournament after finishing with a 3-0 record in the group. USA will go to the last place consolation crossover playoff after finishing winless in Group A and will take on Scotland on Friday after the Celtic nation finished winless and in last place in Group D.
USA won the toss and chose to bat first, making one change to their starting lineup. Tya Gonsalves, who had arrived in South Africa 24 hours earlier as an injury replacement for Taranum Chopra, came into the USA XI in place of Suhani Thadani.
USA scored eight runs in the first over off Marufa Akter as four byes were followed at the end of the over by a four off the bat of Laasya Mullapudi, but USA could only manage another 17 runs total across the rest of the Powerplay, which also included the wicket of Mullapudi for 5. The left-hander pushed too hard driving at Biswas and produced a leading edge to extra cover in the fourth over to make it 11 for 1.
Fellow opener Disha Dhingra was joined by Snigdha Paul and the pair produced USA’s largest partnership of the tournament, adding 57 for the second wicket. Paul was the aggressor in the partnership, and after taking time to get settled in began using her feet in the ninth over to come down the track to Bangladesh’s spinners. She was fortunate to receive two extra lives on back-to-back balls, the first a pull to deep midwicket before a missed stumping chance in the subsequent over, but she made the most of her luck to top score for USA with 26, including four boundaries.
The stand eventually ended with Dhingra was runout for the third time in group play, pushing firmly to extra cover and setting off for a single before a direct hit at the non-striker’s end by Shorna Akter found her four yards short to go for 20. Paul fell on the next delivery, bowled waving past a good length ball from Biswas to make it 68 for 3 in the 15th.
Captain Geetika Kodali and Isani Vaghela teamed up to add 35 runs across the last 33 balls of the innings. Kodali swept spinner Rabeya Khan over square leg in the 16th for the first of her two boundaries before Vaghela heaved Dipa Khatun over wide long-on for another four in the 18th. Kodali pulled Biswas’ medium pace over square leg for another boundary in the 19th before singles and twos were added the rest of the way until Kodali was bowled for 16 on the final delivery of the 20th over attempting to reverse a good length ball from Marufa the clipped the top of off stump. Vaghela ended unbeaten on 17 off 17 balls.
Aside from Biswas’ 2 for 14 in four overs, Marufa was the only other wicket-taker, claiming 1 for 17 in her four overs. Rabeya was the most economical of the Bangladesh spinners, ending with 0 for 14 in four overs.
Bangladesh came out with an aggressive batting approach from start to finish, hitting more boundaries (10 fours and a six) than any of USA’s opponents on tour. However, the aggression opened the door for USA to take wickets as well and the first one fell in the fourth over when Aditi Chudasama induced a top-edged sweep by Sumaiya Akter that ballooned over Sai Eyyunni at short fine leg, who held on for a catch to make it 19 for 1. Afia Prottasha was the next to fall just seven balls later for 7, driving a full delivery from Paul flat to Mullapudi at mid-off who took a head height catch to make it 21 for 2 in the fifth.
Dilara Akter and Shorna Akter came together and reestablished momentum for Bangladesh with a brisk 38 run stand across the next 22 balls. Shorna heaved Vaghela’s medium pace for six over deep midwicket in the seventh over while Dilara clattered two fours over the leg side off Bhumika Bhadriraju in the eighth. The stand ended when Shorna fell for a top score of 22 trying to hit another six but was unable to clear Paul standing three yards inside the rope at long-off and a catch was taken to give Eyyunni her first wicket making it 59 for 3 at the start of the ninth. Dilara departed 10 balls later for 17, slicing a drive that floated to Eyyunni at short third man for a wicket to Bhadriraju making it 64 for 4 in the 10th.
USA arguably should have had Biswas runout for 3 in the 11th over as she tried to take on a second run through cover. Dhingra tracked the ball down from just outside the inner ring and relayed to wicketkeeper Anika Kolan, who took the bails off with Biswas several inches short according to TV replays. But the on-field umpire at square leg ruled Biswas not out and she kept going until the 14th over when she was stifled by Chudasama’s offspin. The New Jersey product tied Biswas down with five dots to start the over, the last of which was a ball nudged in front of point that Biswas wanted to take a single on but got no response from Rabeya at the opposite end. It proved costly as Chudasama got one to spin sharply past a forward prod to bowl Biswas through the gate for 10 to complete her four-over spell with a wicket maiden, making it 86 for 5 after 14 overs.
Though half the Bangladesh order was gone, they only needed 18 runs off the final 36 deliveries remaining. In the end, they needed just 21 more balls to get to the target. USA tried to keep the pressure on with spinners but in Kodali’s only over of the match in the 17th, a four was edged by Misty Shaha past Kolan to the third man rope to ease any tension for Bangladesh. Shaha charged Ritu Singh to drive another boundary over mid-off in the 18th before a wide down the leg side secured the winning run.
Chudasama ended with 2 for 15 in her four overs to lead USA in the field. Eyyunni claimed 1 for 19 in four overs while Bhadriraju ended with 1 for 23 in three, bouncing back strongly after conceding 13 runs in her first over. Paul claimed 1 for 19 in an unbroken three-over new ball spell.