Scotland fought back from a position of 45 for 4 to put up an imposing total behind Sarah Bryce's 45 on the way to a 79-run win over USA to start the 2022 ICC Women's T20 World Cup Qualifier in Abu Dhabi.
Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna in Abu Dhabi (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna)
For the first 45 minutes of USA’s opening encounter against Scotland at the Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier, the underdogs looked capable of scoring their second sizable upset win of the tour. But after holding Scotland to 46 for 4 in 10 overs, the Wildcats showed why they are the reigning European champions with a blistering counterattack, scoring 72 off their last eight overs to overpower a young USA side, finishing on 130 for 5 in what eventually became an easily defendable total in a 79-run win.
Sarah Bryce was named Player of the Match in the win for Scotland, having top-scored with 45 off 32 balls after entering the fray with Scotland struggling at 39 for 3 in the ninth over. Even at 91 for 4 after 17 overs, USA held hopes of containing Scotland to 110. But Bryce took Scotland to that number with two overs to go during a merciless 18th over in which she struck boundaries off four consecutive balls delivered by Disha Dhingra to deflate USA and put Scotland in command for the rest of play.
Scotland won the toss and chose to bat first but were restricted to 26 for 2 by USA’s young bowling unit in the opening six-over Powerplay. Snigdha Paul struck first in the third over, bowling Ailsa Lister with a good length ball for 12. Ritu Singh ended Ellen Watson’s stay for 3 in the fifth, enticed into a drive from a flighted delivery and bowled through the gate to make it 21 for 2.
But much two bigger blows were struck by 17-year-old offspinner Bhumika Bhadriraju in the ninth over. Bhadriraju teased Scotland captain Kathryn Bryce into trying to clear Mahika Kandanala at mid-off only for a simple catch to be taken on the ring for 17. Four balls later, Saskia Horley tried to scoop Bhadriraju over fine leg after shuffling across her stumps but instead was bowled behind her legs for 10 to make it 45 for 5.
Geetika Kodali was introduced into the attack in the following over and conceded just one run. But Bhadriraju was taken out of the attack of her double-strike in the ninth and never used again while debutant legspinner Sai Eyyunni was not used at all. USA wound up only bowling three overs of spin the rest of the way – two by Taranum Chopra and one by Singh. What ensued was a momentum shifting 73-run stand between Sarah Bryce and Priyanaz Chatterji. The only chance created to break the stand came in the 16th, bowled by Chopra, when a flighted delivery was driven by Chatterji on 18 to Kodali at extra cover, who spilled a straightforward chance with the score on 75 for 4.
Chatterji rubbed salt into the wound with a boundary to end the over before Bryce began to tee off on USA’s death bowling pace contingent of Kodali, Dhingra and Paul as Scotland added 46 across the final four overs, including Bryce’s vicious assault during a 19-run over in the 18th. The Scotland wicketkeeper looked certain to make a half-century. But one ball after heaving Kodali over midwicket for six, tried to clear the ropes straight down the ground and was caught by Dhingra at long-on to end the stand. Lorna Jack entered with nine balls to go and added an unbeaten 7 off 6 balls, thanks in part to some sloppy USA fielding, to take Scotland to 130 as Chatterji made the most of the earlier dropped chance to end with a T20I career-best 32 not out off 29 balls.
Despite the hammering USA’s bowlers took at the death, their attack turning in a disciplined display, conceding just three wides and four extras for the innings. Bhadriraju ended with 2 for 13 in just the two overs. Singh finished with 1 for 18 in three overs while Paul had 1 for 19 in two. Kodali ended with 1 for 24 in four. Isani Vaghela ended as USA’s most economical bowler on the day, returning 0 for 19 in four overs despite bowling all three of USA’s wides.
USA’s problems running between the wickets which plagued them in the Quad Series in Dubai reared their head again early in the chase as Dhingra was the first of three runout victims. With pressure building quickly after just six runs off the first two overs, Dhingra set off for a run to mid-on but was well short with Katherine Fraser’s relay to Kathryn Bryce at the bowler’s end getting Dhingra two yards short for 2. Ritu Singh was promoted to No. 3 to try to seize on the Powerplay fielding restrictions but lasted just two balls, bowled by left-arm medium pacer Rachel Slater with a full delivery to make it 13 for 2 in the fourth. Paul entered at No. 4 and tried to release pressure attempting to clear mid-on but picked out Abtaha Maqsood on the ring to give Fraser her first wicket making it 18 for 3. Opener Mahika Kandanala was then caught ball-watching on an attempted single pushed by USA captain Sindhu Sriharsha to extra cover and a relay from Lister to Sarah Bryce at the keeper’s end found Kandanala well short to be out for 10, making it 19 for 4. That wound up being USA’s top score off the bat in the chase as nobody else reached double-figures following the dismal start.
Lisa Ramjit became the third runout victim for USA to end the seventh over at 21 for 5, caught short attempting to take a second run after slicing a drive through third man as a relay from the boundary by Slater to Sarah Bryce was true to dismiss Ramjit for 2. Vaghela fell one ball after the halfway stage for 8, bowled by the spin of Horley to make it 33 for 6. Chopra played back and was caught on the crease to Maqsood’s legspin to be given lbw for 2 at 38 for 7. Sriharsha’s stay finally ended for 5 when she was bowled by Horley for 5 prodding down the wrong line. Bhadriraju was bowled by a full delivery from Hannah Rainey’s medium pace for a four-ball duck to make it 42 for 9 in the 14th before Kodali and Eyyunni stretched the game out until the 20th over when Kodali finally fell heaving a catch to mid-on taken by Kathryn Bryce for Fraser’s second wicket as USA were eventually all out for 51 in 19.1 overs.
Fraser had 2 for 7 in 3.1 overs while Horley took 2 for 8 in four with a maiden. Rainey (3-1-2-1), Maqsood (3-0-10-1) and Slater (4-0-15-1) were Scotland’s other wicket-takers while Kathryn Bryce chose not to bring herself back into the attack after conceding 0 for 9 in two overs with the new ball.
USA is back in action on Monday night in Abu Dhabi when they take on Ireland, who lost to Bangladesh by 14 runs in their opening encounter of group play. Match start time is 7 pm in Abu Dhabi, 11 am EST in the USA.