India struck gold in their Asian Games cricket debut when they beat in-form Sri Lanka by 19 runs in the women’s final in Hangzhou, after declining to send teams on the two previous occasions the sport was included in the continental Games.
Batting first, India reached 116-7 in their 20 overs with Smriti Mandhana (46) and Jemimah Rodrigues (42) putting on 73 for the second wicket in Monday’s final.
Keep readinglist of 3 items
Sri Lanka’s chase started badly when they were reduced to 14-3 in the fifth over by a devastating spell from right-arm seamer Titas Sadhu.
She took two wickets in her first four balls and another in her third over to finish with remarkable figures of three wickets for six runs.
India’s star batter said winning the gold was something “you dream about”.
“It’s a reward for all the efforts we have put in over so many years.”
RODRIGUES Jemimah Jessica from the Indian Women's Cricket Team said she was proud to win the gold medal for Team India 🇮🇳 ❤.#Hangzhou #AsianGames #Cricket #TeamIndia #HangzhouAsianGames #GoldMedal @ACCMedia1 @ICC @WeAreTeamIndia pic.twitter.com/dbaPYBRcsj
— 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022 Official (@19thAGofficial) September 25, 2023
Sri Lanka, who had beaten England in a white-ball series for the first time earlier this month, were always behind the run rate despite Hasini Perera looking to accelerate, hitting four fours and a six in a rapid 25.
When Nilakshi de Silva was out after a battling 23, Sri Lanka were 78-5, needing 39 more with only 23 balls remaining.
Two more wickets saw them face a near-impossible 25 off the last over, and they could only muster five as India began to celebrate.
“It’s a golden first for us,” India assistant coach Rajib Dutta told the AFP news agency.
Sri Lankan all-rounder Oshadi Ranasinghe said they had missed a good opportunity to win gold.
“Looking at the way we batted, we have to get more disciplined,” she said.
Accumulating runs has not been easy all tournament at the Zhejiang University of Technology Pingfeng Cricket Field, on a flaky wicket affected by rain last week.
India won the toss and opted to bat even though both semifinals and the bronze medal match were won by the team chasing.
Bangladesh took the bronze after restricting Pakistan to 64-9 and crawling to their target of 65 in 18.2 overs in their medal playoff.
It meant Pakistan, who won the gold on both previous occasions that cricket was played in the Asian Games, return home empty-handed.
“It’s not a good feeling. We never got enough runs on the board,” said Pakistan coach Mohtashim Rasheed.