The inaugural edition of cricket at the coveted Commonwealth Games 2022 completed its fifth matchday without any major surprises or upsets. World Champions Australia as well as New Zealand, and India all enjoyed landslide victories over their opponents in a rather one-sided yet entertaining day of cricket at the tournament taking place in Birmingham.
To kick things off, Sri Lanka took on New Zealand in a Group B encounter. Sophie Devine won the toss and chose to bat, a popular choice among captains at the Commonwealth Games. The White Ferns got off to a fantastic start, as the skipper and her opening partner Suzie Bates got off to fluent starts, adding 50 within the first six overs.
However, the Sri Lankan bowlers dominated most of the middle phase, picking up wickets at frequent intervals, stifling the New Zealand innings. Nevertheless, Lea Tahuhu’s impressive cameo of 20* in just eight deliveries meant that the Kiwis put up a competitive total of 147/7. In response, the Sri Lankan innings can be described as a disaster at best.
Before they knew it, SL were reduced to 32/5. It only went downhill from there, as they eventually lost by a margin of 45 runs. Nilakshi de Silva’s innings was the only saving grace as theyLanka suffered their second loss of the tournament.
The Aussies took on Pakistan in the next game of the day, in what was a total and utter trouncing. Batting first, Australia got off to a rather slow start, losing both Alyssa Healy as well as Meg Lanning in the first six overs. However, Tahila McGrath and Beth Mooney put on a show for the Edgbaston crowd, adding 141 in just about 14 overs.
Both batters finished unbeaten in their 70s, setting Pakistan a daunting target of 161. Much like Sri Lanka, it never seemed as if Pakistan would challenge for the game, despite some notable contributions from skipper Bismah Maroof and Omaima Sohail. Fatima Sana also played an appreciable knock of 35, but McGrath’s match-winning performance continued with ball in hand as well, picking up three wickets as the Aussies galloped to victory.
The Indian women faced Barbados in the last game of the day. Hayley Matthews won the toss and decided to field first, a decision that seemed to pay off immediately, with Smriti Mandhana departing early on.
However, Shefali Verma and Jemimah Rodrigues made sure that the Indian ship stayed steady throughout, adding 71 runs in the space of just about seven overs. A huge mix-up brought about the downfall of Verma, followed by a few more quick dismissals, before Deepti Sharma played an invaluable cameo to take India to an excellent total of 162/4.
Barbados, in response, were never even in the game, and it would not be wrong to suggest that perhaps they never really stood a chance from the very outset, given their performance with the bat. It was a disaster from start to finish for the Caribbean women, something for which Renuka Sharma must take credit.
She was fantastic with the ball, bowling a magical four-over spell, conceding just 10 runs while also picking up four crucial wickets. Barbados’ innings eventually folded for 62, giving India a 100-run victory.