18-year-old Gargi Bhogle put her stamp on the match early and often to star in USA's 10-wicket win over Canada at the Reforma Club in Mexico City.
Image credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna in Mexico City (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna)
Southern California teenager Gargi Bhogle put in a superb all-round show, taking two sharp catches at extra cover as well as contributing to one of USA’s five runouts in the field before scoring an unbeaten 39 off 37 balls to help USA chase down a target of 71 in a 10-wicket thrashing of Canada on day two of the 2021 ICC Americas Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier at the Reforma Athletic Club in Mexico City.
Bhogle teamed with Shebani Bhaskar to set a new USA record for the highest partnership for any wicket, besting the previous mark of 68 which was set two years ago against Canada in Lauderhill, Florida by Sugetha Chandrasekhar and Sindhu Sriharsha. It’s also the second time USA has beaten Canada by 10 wickets, doing so in Lauderhill two years ago in the first of three T20Is during the corresponding Americas qualifier.
“It’s exciting to break a record so early in my cricket career, but definitely I’m going to break that again,” Bhogle said after the win. “Hopefully with Shebs, or anyone, but we’re going to break it again.”
That relentless pursuit of success sought by Bhogle propelled USA in the field and helped them capitalize on a series of poor decisions made by Canada running between the wickets. All five runouts happened with Divya Saxena at the crease, with Saxena winding up as the surviving batter on all five occasions.
With USA and Canada playing an unchanged XI from their opening day wins over Brazil and Argentina respectively, Canada won the toss and chose to bat first. Canada struggled to generate momentum though to vindicate the decision as opener Miryam Khokhar found herself having to do all the heavy lifting, first with opening partner Achini Perera and then with Saxena who entered at No. 3. After the pair focused on seeing off the new ball spell of USA left-arm quick Tara Norris, Khokar began to open up in the fifth over, heaving Sara Farooq over the leg side for Canada’s first boundary. When Moksha Chaudhary replaced Farooq in the seventh, Khokhar targeted the leg side rope once more in back-to-back overs for a pair of boundaries.
But Perera could not get unstuck at the opposite end and Suhani Thadani struck with her third ball of the day after replacing Norris in the sixth, getting sharp rising bounce off a good length to produce an edge behind taken by Sriharsha as Perera fell for 1 off 14 balls to make it 12 for 1. By the end of the ninth over, Canada reached 23 for 1 with Khokhar accounting for 22 of those runs as Saxena – who a day earlier was named Player of the Match for scoring 71* off 71 balls against Argentina – went 11 balls without scoring at the start of her innings. Worse, she sold out Khokhar in the 10th after driving to Norris at mid-on and setting off before turning back after five strides as Norris fired into the stumps from eight yards out to make it 24 for 2.
Saxena eventually went until her 19th ball before finally getting off the mark with a boundary against Akshatha Rao in the 11th, but that scoreboard pressure resulted in a second runout to start the 14th. Saxena pulled to deep square leg where Isani Vaghela circled around to field before firing a 65-yard throw on the fly to Sriharsha over the stumps at the striker’s end. Canada captain Kamna Mirchandani wanted to come back for a second run but was stranded halfway down the wicket when Saxena refused to respond and the result was the captain leaving for 2 to make it 43 for 3.
Bhogle entered the fray in the next over, stationed perfectly at extra cover to cling onto a drive from Sonali Vig off the bowling of Farooq. Thadani took her second wicket in the 16th. One ball after being flicked for a boundary behind square off a full toss, Thadani got her radar right to fire in a yorker that claimed Mukhwinder Gill to make it 55 for 5 with 25 balls remaining. Bhogle was at it again at extra cover in the 17th, leaping in the air to take an athletic catch above her head intercepting another drive this time from Saniya Zia for a second ball duck as Chaudhary took her first wicket of the day.
A trio of runouts took place in the space of six balls during the last two overs to bury Canada further behind the eight ball. Bhogle once again was in the mix at extra cover, fielding before relaying to Chaudhary over the non-striker’s stumps to dismiss Marukh Imtiaz. One ball later Hiba Shamshad was runout without facing a ball when she couldn’t make her ground coming back for a second run on a heave to midwicket by Saxena as Rao’s relay to Chaudhary was true. Sana Zafar was the third to go in the sequence as a flick off the pads by Saxena off the bowling of Norris to down the leg side was tracked down by Vaghela, who ran 20 yards from deep fine leg to fire a direct hit from 40 yards into the striker’s end stumps as Saxena once again turned down her partner’s intention for a second run. Canada ended on 70 for 9 with Saxena ending unbeaten on 22.
Thadani finished with USA’s best figures on the day of 2 for 7 in her four overs with two maidens. Norris was frugal conceding nine runs including a maiden in her four overs despite going wicketless. Farooq took 1 for 13 and Chaudhary 1 for 17 in four overs each respectively. Rao and Uzma Iftikhar also went wicketless, ending with 0 for 14 and 0 for 9 in two overs each.
In reply, Bhogle and Bhaskar took USA across the line with a record-breaking stand, but not a chanceless one. While Bhogle looked assured at one end in striking five boundaries, Bhaskar played a shaky knock and was dropped twice – the first time on 3 in the second over – while she arguably offered up three more chances which Canada could not get a hand to due to immobile fielders, highlighting one of the major differences between the two sides.
However, when they got it right, both USA openers were powerful with their straight driving in particular which accounted for the bulk of USA’s seven boundaries with two coming off the bat of Bhaskar. Bhogle also showed she had the muscle to reach the immensely deep square boundary as well, connecting on a pull through square leg at one stage that whistled past the marked disc cones. Bhogle brought up victory with a single off the penultimate ball in the 11th.
In the day’s other match, Brazil set an Americas region record by bowling out Argentina for 12. Renata Sousa was named Player of the Match after taking two wickets in what was a collectively merciless bowling and fielding effort from Brazil, who chased the target in just 3.3 overs to record an eight-wicket win.
All teams have an off day in Mexico City on Wednesday before getting back into action on Thursday. USA will take on Argentina in the first match of the day at 10 am local time before Brazil plays Canada in the afternoon at the