On a day when USA missed nine chances in the field, Scotland Women's U19 captain Katherine Fraser showed her all-round prowess by striking a match-winning 59 off 47 balls, including eight fours and one six, that followed up her 3 for 23 with the ball in a Player of the Match performance to help her side past USA by five wickets with two balls to spare in the last place crossover playoff at the 2023 ICC Women's U19 T20 World Cup.
Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
By Peter Della Penna in Benoni, South Africa (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna)
Scotland Women’s U19 captain Katherine Fraser followed up 3 for 23 in the field with a dramatic 59 off 47 balls to help her side chase down a target of 148 with two balls to spare in a five-wicket win for Scotland over USA on Friday at Willowmoore Park in Benoni in USA’s last match of the 2023 ICC Women’s U19 T20 World Cup. The result ensured USA returns home winless at the inaugural ICC global tournament for junior women’s players, though USA will rue the fact that they dropped eight chances and missed one runout opportunity in the match. Three extra lives were given to Fraser on 23, 51 and 53, while USA paid just as dearly for four missed chances across the final two overs.
"The fielding has always been a concern here," said USA Women's U19 head coach Shivnarine Chanderpaul after the loss. "Since we came, we've been trying to do a lot of catches as much as we can to try to get them accustomed to the balls in South Africa coming down a bit quicker. But look, we've done enough catches. It was just straightforward catches that we're not looking the ball into our hands. Sometimes you go hard hands instead of letting the ball cushion into our hands. It wasn't like hard catches. Some of them in the ring and straight to you, you should be able to take those catches but we weren't able to do that. This is definitely an area we need to work on because it has been costing us matches. It cost us the game against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka also. If the fielding was a bit better, we could have pulled home a few games and this game also. So it keeps costing us matches."
USA’s problems in the field existed from the opening over of Scotland’s chase when Ailsa Lister skied a top-edged pull to square leg off Snigdha Paul, only for two fielders to collide trying to take the chance with the ball going to ground. The chance only wound up costing USA one run as Lister’s attempted pull against Aditi Chudasama’s offspin found Tya Gonsalves at short midwicket, who parried the blistering shot above her head initially before diving to take the chance on the rebound for 9 to make it 15 for 1.
But it was only one over later that yet another chance went down, this time a pull by Darcey Carter on 4 which was spilled at midwicket off the bowling of Ritu Singh. Yet another chance was missed with Emma Walsingham on 12 when a shovel towards cover resulted in a late reaction by the ring fielder as the ball eluded her before going to the rope. Carter made 15 before she was stumped after missing a charge down the track to Chudasama in the sixth over, while Walsingham eventually made 27 before she dragged onto her stumps in the 10th over to give Singh a wicket making it 61 for 3.
For the second match in a row, a tight line decision went against USA as Emily Tucker was given not out on a stumping appeal on 5 on the first ball of the 11th over bowled by Bhumika Bhadriraju. Tucker overstretched trying to drive and a massive stumping appeal was belted out by Pooja Ganesh – who took over behind the stumps for USA in place of Anika Kolan, one of two changes USA made to their XI along with Jivana Aras coming in for Sai Eyyunni – with a side-on TV replay showing Tucker’s foot clearly outside the crease when the bails were dislodged. But the umpire at square leg ruled not out. Had the appeal been upheld, Scotland would have been 67 for 4 and the partnership good for just six runs. Instead, the partnership between Tucker and Fraser went on until the 18th over as the pair eventually added 68 runs together.
However, USA had numerous chances afterward to get both Tucker and Fraser out which they did not capitalize on. Tucker provided a return chance just one run after surviving the stumping appeal when she was dropped by Isani Vaghela on 6 in the 12th over. A firm drive to Vaghela’s left at head height burst through the bowler’s hands in her follow-through and traveled down the ground for one run. Fraser’s first life came in the 13th over on 23 when a skied drive over cover was dropped off the bowling of Geetika Kodali, resulting in the only run in what otherwise would have been a wicket-maiden over. The error was compounded when Fraser connected on back-to-back boundaries in the following over.
In spite of the lengthy stand, the required run rate continued to climb for Scotland, who needed 31 off the final 18 balls. But Fraser brought up her half-century in the 18th over with clever manipulation of the field, bringing up a 42-ball half-century with back-to-back boundaries. The first came courtesy of a sweep off Bhadriraju after shuffling well outside off stump to create the angle. It resulted in mid-off coming into the ring for the next ball and deep fine leg being pushed back, only for Fraser to charge down the wicket and drive over mid-off for another four. However, USA struck back by the end of the over as Bhadriraju struck on the penultimate ball of her spell, pulling a low full toss off the toe of the bat to Gonsalves at midwicket to fall for 15 making it 129 for 4.
Kodali’s snake-bitten spell continued in the 19th over when she had Fraser dropped on consecutive balls. The first was a lofted drive to long-on which was shelled, followed by a heaved pull to deep midwicket which was also grassed. To make matters worse, Fraser ran two runs on both occasions to keep the strike, and the second drop was followed by a boundary in which she once again showed clever manipulation of the field, shuffling way outside off stump to flick a low full toss over square leg to the rope to bring the equation down to eight runs needed off seven balls. With her last ball in a USA Women’s U19 uniform, Kodali took the wicket of Fraser as another skied drive was safely held this time by Chudasama.
Vaghela was then given the ball for the final over and began with a wide outside the off stump guidelines. However, she created a chance off her first legal ball of the over, inducing a skied drive to mid-off by Molly Paton on 2, but the fielder charging in shelled the waist high chance to allow a single. A dot ball followed to Olivia Bell before a missed runout chance followed when Bell set off for a suicide single to midwicket. Not only did a rushed one-bounce throw to the non-striker’s end miss, but Vaghela was unable to collect cleanly to take off the bails with Bell well short. Another wide followed to Paton to bring the equation down to four needed off three balls before Paton clinched victory by sweeping a full ball off her legs through backward square leg to the boundary.
Chudasama finished with USA’s best figures on the day, taking 2 for 20 in four overs. Kodali claimed 1 for 19 in four while Singh and Bhadriraju returned figures of 1 for 33 and 1 for 35 respectively in their four over spells.
USA had chosen to bat first at the toss and produced their best partnership of the tournament as Disha Dhingra and Laasya Mullapudi added 75 for the first wicket across 10.3 overs. Scotland had piled on initial pressure across the first two overs, conceding just two singles, but a sloppy and needless overthrow past the wicketkeeper on a simple dot ball clipped to midwicket resulted in four overthrows to get USA’s innings going in the third over. Another four was struck by Dhingra to end the over and Mullapudi followed in in the fourth with a hat-trick of fours.
Mullapudi offered a life on 18 to start the eighth over by left-arm spinner Niamh Robertson-Jack, but a sliced drive to extra cover went under the hands of the fielder lunging to her right and carried on to the rope.
The partnership finally ended when Dhingra was bounced out by medium pacer Orla Montgomery in the 11thfor 30, gloving a pull down the leg side to the keeper. Medium pace at the opposite end accounted for Mullapudi as well. One ball after driving Nayma Sheikh over extra cover for her eighth four, Sheikh dragged the length back to bowl the left-hander with a good length ball to beat a back foot prod for 43.
Vaghela became Montgomery’s second short-ball victim in the 13th as another attempted pull was gloved through to the keeper Lister for 3 to make it 87 for 3. Gonsalves became the fourth wicket to fall, charging Fraser and slicing a drive to cover for 7 to make it 104 for 4 with 26 balls to go.
Kodali and Singh shifted momentum back toward USA with a brisk 26-run stand off just 15 balls. Singh benefitted from being dropped on back-to-back balls at backward point and deep midwicket in the 17th over, the latter of which was a simple catching chance that was dropped into the rope for four. Kodali meanwhile struck USA’s only six of the tournament in the 18th over, pulling Montgomery’s pace crisply over the square leg rope.
However, Scotland struck back with two wickets in a crucial 19th over thanks to the clever bowling of Fraser. A fullish length ball was heaved by Singh toward Carter at deep midwicket, who backpedaled and took a sharp catch just inside the rope reaching high above her head to get Singh for 22. Two balls later, Kodali was back on strike and heaved a delivery flat toward Carter at deep midwicket who sprinted forward 10 yards and took a superb catch diving forward to get Kodali for 13 making it 132 for 6.
Chudasama and Snigdha Paul added 15 runs off the final nine balls. Chudasama was runout for 4 on the penultimate ball taking on Carter at mid-on for a tight single. With Paul on strike for the final ball of the innings, the left-hander struck a boundary through mid-off to cap a nine-run over. But it wound up not being enough in the end.
In addition to Fraser’s 3 for 23, Montgomery finished with 2 for 29 in her four overs. Sheikh finished as the only other wicket-taker, claiming 1 for 19 in three overs.