India thrashed Ireland by 52 runs to register their third successive win in the ongoing 2018 ICC Women's World Twenty20 on Thursday at Providence, Guayana. The win helped India enter the semi-finals for the third time in the tournament's history, and for the first time since 2010. India were the semi-finalists in the first two editions of the tournament, in 2009 and 2010, but failed to escape first round in the three subsequent editions.
Put into bat first in their Group B match, India could manage only 145/6, with veteran Mithali Raj once again scoring a well-paced half-century as the likes of Jemimah Rodrigues and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur failed to convert their promising starts to big scores. It was a below-par total considering India's batting prowess and also the relative inexperience in the Irish bowling attack.
But, Indian spinners produced a disciplined performance to restrict Ireland to 93/8, with left-arm spinner Radha Yadav taking three wickets. Offspinner Deepti Sharma took two wickets, while Poonam Yadav and Kaur contributed one wicket each.
Once Deepti got the wicket of Gaby Lewis (9) with an off-break and Poonam's leg-break saw the end of Clare Shillington (23) stumped by Taniya Bhatia, Ireland had no chance whatsoever.
Earlier, former skipper Mithali Raj once again came to India's rescue with a fluent half-century to help the women-in-blue post a below-par 145/6.
Mithali, who top-scored with a 56-ball 51, laced with 4 fours and a six, did not find a stable partner at the other end, thanks to some casual batting from her teammates and immaculate bowling from the Irish women.
In the process, the veteran right-hander also created a new record of being the highest run-getter for India in T20Is with 2283 runs. Rohit Sharma (2207 runs) is the second in the list, followed by men's team skipper Virat Kohli.
Put in to bat, India got off to a steady 67-run start from Mithali and Smriti Mandhana (33 off 29 balls; 4X4, 6X1) before the southpaw once again departed after getting a decent start. Rodrigues (18 off 11; 4X3) got off to a brisk start and quickly added 40 runs for the second wicket with Mithali before being stumped off Irish captain Laura Delany's bowling.
Thereafter, Kaur (7) and No.5 Veda Krishnamurthy (9) departed in quick succession, leaving India reeling at 127/4.
Mithali, however, waged a lone battle bringing up her sedate half-century off 54 deliveries but perished soon, caught behind off Kim Garth.
Towards the end, Dayalan Hemalatha (4), Deepti Sharma (10 not out) and Radha Yadav (1 not out) failed to accelerate the scoring rate as India ended up with 145.
Courtesy the win, India now have six points and are assured of a last-four spot along with Australia (6 points from 3 games) from the group, while New Zealand, Pakistan and Ireland are out of the contention. India started their campaign by beating White Ferns by 36 runs in the tournament opener thanks to a majestic ton from the skipper, who in the process became the first Indian woman to do so. It was followed by a comfortable seven-wicket win over arch-rivals Pakistan.
Brief Scores: India 145/6 (Mithali Raj 51, Smriti Mandhana 33; Kim Garth 2/22) beat Ireland 93/8 in 20 overs (Isobel Joyce 33; Radha Yadav 3/25)
(With agency inputs)