Without a major contribution from captain Sindhu Sriharsha, the rest of USA's batting lineup failed to fill in with runs in support as PNG stifled USA, holding them to 76 for 9 on the way to a seven-wicket win.
Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna in Abu Dhabi (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna)
The USA Women side’s overreliance on captain Sindhu Sriharsha to score the bulk of their runs on tour was exposed by a disciplined Papua New Guinea bowling unit, who pinned USA to 21 for 4 after seven overs – including the wicket of Sriharsha for 2 – and ultimately held USA to 76 for 9 before a carefree chase piloted by Player of the Match Sibona Jimmy took PNG across the line with nine overs to spare in a seven-wicket win over USA in the fifth-place semi-final playoff on Friday at the 2022 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier.
USA lost the toss and was sent in to bat first, making two changes to their lineup from the previous loss to Bangladesh. Ritu Singh and Suhani Thadani came in for Taranum Chopra and vice-captain Geetika Kodali, who had gone off the field to receive treatment from the physio after her lone over against Bangladesh and never returned.
USA got off to a fairly reasonable start against PNG, reaching 18 for 0 after three overs. The opening pair of Mahika Kandanala and Disha Dhingra combined for three boundaries in that stretch. But the wheels came off in abrupt fashion across the next four overs as USA added just three runs and lost four wickets in the process.
Kandanala fell first for 8, miscuing a drive trying to clear mid-on and instead gave a straightforward catch on the ring for Ravina Oa’s first wicket. Dhingra fell in the fifth for 10, miassing a heave across the line to Jimmy and given lbw. Sriharsha was bounced out in the sixth over, top-edging a short ball to midwicket for Oa’s second wicket. Anika Kolan’s struggles on tour in the UAE continued as she registered her third duck in her last four official innings, this time a seven-ball stay before she was out bowled by Jimmy in the seventh over to a desperate heave across the line.
Lisa Ramjit and Isani Vaghela grinded out a 21-run partnership across the next six overs to keep USA afloat. With the exception of a full toss put away through midwicket by Vaghela, runs were hard to come by. Ramjit drove through mid-off for her lone boundary on the ball immediately prior to her dismissal for 9, slicing a drive to backward point for Vicky Araa’s first wicket. Snigdha Paul became Araa’s second victim two overs later when playing back to a good length ball and given lbw for 2. Ritu Singh was then yorked two balls later for 2 to make it 49 for 7.
Vaghela’s vigil lasted until the 18th over as her attempt to whip a full ball over midwicket was intercepted by Tanya Ruma reaching above her head to take a sharp catch off the bowling of Oa back into the attack for a death spell to send off Vaghela for a top score of 17 off 36 balls making it 57 for 8. Bhumika Bhadriraju was ninth to go, runout for 2 after failing to make her ground trying to take a second run on an edge through fine leg as Hollan Doriga’s throw from 40 yards was true. Thadani and Sai Eyyunni managed to survive the final 10 balls – Thadani was dropped on 8 at mid-on to start the final over – to add nine more runs as the pair ended on 10 not out and 6 not out respectively.
Araa had PNG’s best figures with 3 for 13 in her four overs. Oa returned 3 for 20 in four with a maiden. Jimmy had remarkable figures of 2 for 1 in two overs and a maiden but was interestingly left with two overs unused.
However, Jimmy ensured she would leave with Player of the Match honors after bulldozing her way toward the target with 33 off 30 balls including six boundaries, as many as USA’s entire batting order had combined. Jimmy showcased her full array of options to get the ball to the rope, a late cut through third man, drives over mid-on and mid-off as well as a pull over square leg.
PNG suffered a few hiccups in their chase, the first of which was Naoani Vare chasing a wider ball and edging Thadani behind for 1 to end the second over. But a 45-run stand between Jimmy and Ruma removed any doubt about who would come out on top. Jimmy finally fell to end the seventh over, driving Bhadriraju firmly to Kolan at extra cover. Kolan took her second catch in identical fashion in the 11th to dismiss Ruma for 22 off the bowling of Singh with PNG just one stroke away from victory. Captain Kaia Arua came in and stroked a boundary through cover off the final ball of the 11th over to end the match.
Thadani took 1 for 7 in her two overs. Bhadriraju took 1 for 14 in two while Singh finished with 1 for 23 in two, though she also had Ruma dropped off her bowling at deep midwicket on a ball that turned into a boundary as part of an expensive 12-run first over.
USA now faces UAE in the seventh-place playoff after UAE lost their loser’s bracket semifinal to Scotland by 85 runs. PNG will play Scotland in the fifth-place playoff. Start time for USA v UAE will be 3 pm local time on Sunday, 7 am EST in the USA.