India Women had played more T20Is in the last three months than Bangladesh Women had managed to play across formats since their World T20 debut in 2014. The end result was a lopsided contest as Bangladesh’s lack of experience on the big stage stood brutally exposed. A target of 164 became a gap too far to bridge as India won by 72 runs to get their campaign off to an emphatic start.
A ‘no-holds barred’ approach was the hallmark of India’s batting effort as they blasted their way to 163 for 5, comfortably surpassing their previous T20I best of 151, also against Bangladesh at the 2014 edition. Mithali Raj and Vellaswamy Vanitha did the early running, Harmanpreet Kaur gave impetus in the middle, while Veda Krishnamurthy sustained the surge at the death. In comparison, only Nigar Sultana stood still amid the rubble for Bangladesh to make 27 not out in an otherwise disappointing batting show.
Where Raj was all grace and timing, her younger colleague Vanitha was pure muscle; her strength coming to the fore on the face of some slow, loopy spin as India raised their 50 in the sixth over. Bangladesh’s plans of choking India with their plethora of slow options clearly didn’t work. As the innings progressed, the absence of a Plan B allowed India to continue their jolly ride, with wickets hardly coming as a bother.
Vanitha raced away to 38, and a half-century loomed, but she was deceived in flight and bowled by Nahida Akter. Smriti Mandhana erred in judgment to fall soon after as she played all around one that spun back in. India, however, were still handily placed at 63 for 2 in the ninth over.
Bangladesh had some breathing space, but it was all too brief as Harmanpreet seamlessly switched gears. By then, Raj was in cruise-control and seemed intent on making Bangladesh pay for a reprieve on 28, until she lobbed a gentle chip shot to the cover fielder for 42.
Harmanpreet ensured, however, that the positivity of the innings wasn’t lost. She either used her feet or shuffled across to play the pick-up shot against loopy bowling, hitting three fours and two sixes in her 29-ball 40. Once she fell, Krishnamurthy took over the baton as India blasted 66 off the last six overs.
Bangladesh started cautiously, but the dark clouds that hovered over the stadium perhaps made them edgy as they tried to bring out the big shots, only to tie themselves up in knots against Anuja Patil and Rajeshwari Gayakwad. At 22 for 1 in six overs, the chase was in need of some direction.
The growing pressure forced Sanjida Islam into playing an ungainly slog to midwicket to give India a firm foothold, from where they didn’t look back. With little or no pressure to contend with, India also showed rare glimpses of their magic on the field, something they have not always been known for, as Bangladesh’s innings meandered towards the close.
The hosts couldn’t have asked for a better game first up to test all their systems before a pressure clash against Pakistan Women on March 19.