Lisa Ramjit's career-best in Women's T20Is was not enough for USA as UAE managed to haul down a target off 118 on the final ball of the match to leave USA winless at the 2022 ICC Women's T20 World Cup Qualifier.
Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna in Abu Dhabi (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna)
USA’s hopes of pulling off a second win over the UAE came up short in heartbreaking fashion as the hosts of the 2022 Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier bested USA off the final ball of the chase, hauling in a target of 118 to beat USA by five wickets in the seventh-place playoff on Sunday in Abu Dhabi. The result meant USA ended the qualifier winless and goes home with just one win out of eight official matches on tour.
USA won the toss and chose to bat first, making one change from their lineup from the previous loss to Scotland as Yashaaditi Teki came in for Mahika Kandanala. The absence of Kandanala from the XI meant Lisa Ramjit was promoted up the order to open in her place and the 17-year-old justified the move by top-scoring in USA’s innings by making an unbeaten 48 off 55 balls out of USA’s total of 117 for 3.
But USA’s slow overall start was something that handicapped them in the final result as Esha Oza bowled two maidens in the opening six-over Powerplay to keep the visitors tied down. Oza wound up bowling four straight overs of new ball offspin, taking the wicket of Disha Dhingra pushing away from her body to edge behind in the sixth over for 8 off 15, making it 25 for 1.
USA captain Sindhu Sriharsha joined Ramjit and, after a slow start against Oza, rebuilt the innings with a 41-run second-wicket partnership. Sriharsha was the more fluent of the two during the stand, accounting for 26 of the runs before she fell trying to clear long-off and was caught on the boundary off the bowling of Indhuja Nandakumar to make it 66 for 2.
Unlike the previous instance of Sriharsha falling in the 13th over with the score on 66, when USA subsequently lost their last eight wickets for 25 runs against Ireland, the USA lineup added 51 runs across the rest of the innings as Ramjit anchored USA. Ramjit teamed with Snigdha Paul to add 22 for the third wicket before Paul drove Khushi Sharma to extra cover to fall for 12 at the end of the 17th. Ritu Singh and Ramjit then added 29 off the last 18 balls to take USA to 117, including back-to-back boundaries struck down the ground by Singh through mid-off to end the innings. Singh ended unbeaten on 13 off 7 balls.
Oza ended with 1 for 12 in her four overs for UAE’s best figures. Sharma claimed 1 for 20 in three overs while Nandakumar took 1 for 22 in four overs.
Oza’s impact on the match continued in the chase. Having sat out the first encounter earlier in the month when USA prevailed at ICC Academy in Dubai, Oza blistered her way through the USA new ball attack, laced five boundaries in the first five overs through a wide array of strokes, whether it as a delicate late cut through third man, a sweep through fine leg or a drive back over mid-on or mid-off. She made 37 off 28 balls as part of a 51-run opening stand before she fell trying to smash legspinner Sai Eyyunni out of the ground and was out stumped by Anika Kolan.
USA had a chance to make it two in two overs when Theertha Satish top-edged a pull off Bhumika Bhadriraju in the next over on 14, but a straightforward chance was spilled by Teki. Two more sharp return chances were put down on 15 and 16 in the next over by Eyyunni before Singh finally dislodged Satish for 22 on a sliced catch to Eyyunni at short third on the ring. But the missed chances proved costly in a match decided on the final ball.
Kavisha Kumari Egodage scratched out 8 off 18 balls before she fell trying to heave Eyyunni over midwicket and was bowled to make it 78 for 3 as the required run rate climbed a touch above a run a ball. UAE captain Chaya Mughal charged and missed a ball dragged wider outside off from Bhadriraju to be stumped off a wide for 5 to make it 87 for 4 as the UAE needed 31 off 27 legal deliveries, which looked like it may be beyond them based on their previous middle-order collapse against USA in Dubai.
But USA’s sloppy fielding continued as Kolan – who was keeping wicket instead of Sriharsha for the first time in the tournament – missed two chances in the 17th over: an edge off Khushi Sharma on 11 and a missed stumping off Samaira Dharnidhaka on 2. Sharma wound up making a vital 23 off 22 balls before she was runout trying to take on a second run down the ground before she was defeated by a relay from Teki to Singh over the bowler’s stumps.
It meant UAE needed 13 off the last eight balls with Dharnidhaka joined by Natasha Cherriath fresh to the crease. Two singles to end the over left UAE needing 11 off the final over to win. A four off the finals ball by Cherriath swung the pendulum firmly in favor of the UAE, reducing the equation to 7 off 5 balls. But Paul conceded just one run off each of the next three balls leaving UAE needing four off two to win with Dharnidhaka on strike. A two down the ground reduced it to one to tie and two to win. Once again, she drive a two down the ground to secure victory for the UAE.
Eyyunni finished with USA’s best figures on the day, taking 2 for 18 in four overs. Bhadriraju claimed 1 for 16 in four and Singh claimed 1 for 31 in four though both had several chances put down off their bowling. Suhani Thadani only bowled one over conceding two runs, but she left the field very early in the chase with a hip injury after diving to the ground trying to stop a run in the ring and never came back on the field.
USA’s leading scorer in the qualifier was Sriharsha, who ended with 132 runs in five innings at an average of 33 and she also was the leading scorer across the entire tour with 205 runs in eight innings at an average of 34.16. Ramjit was next best at the qualifier with 88 runs in five innings at an average of 29.33. Nobody else crossed 50 runs in the tournament while Isani Vaghela was the only other with a double-digit average, making 38 runs in three innings at an average of 12.66. Bhadriraju was USA’s highest wicket taker both in the tournament, with four wickets, and on the tour as a whole with eight wickets.