In a spectacle that showcased the growing fervour for women’s cricket, over 42,000 fans thronged the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai for the riveting clash between India and Australia in the second women’s T20 International. The chants of ‘India, India’ echoed across the stands as enthusiasts of all ages came together to witness this exhilarating contest on Sunday, January 7. The stakes were high as India aimed to secure an unassailable lead in the 3-match series following their emphatic victory in the first T20I.
However, Australia, led by Ellyse Perry in her monumental 300th international appearance, displayed an improved bowling performance. Despite a valiant effort, India found themselves restricted to 130 for 8 in their allotted 20 overs. Early setbacks, including the loss of Shafali Verma in the second over, tested India’s resolve. Smriti Mandhana steadied the ship, yet the team lost wickets at regular intervals. Jemimah Rodrigues departed after contributing 13 off 9 balls, while skipper Harmanpreet Kaur struggled to find her rhythm, managing a mere 6 runs off 12 deliveries.
Amidst this challenging scenario, Deepti Sharma emerged as the standout performer. Not only did she etch her name in the annals of cricket history by becoming the first Indian to achieve the remarkable feat of 1000 runs and 100-plus wickets in women’s T20Is, but she also played a crucial role in steering India’s innings. Despite concerns about her strike rate in the closing stages of white-ball encounters, Sharma’s composed knock of 30 proved instrumental in bolstering India’s total. Sharma’s impact wasn’t limited to her batting prowess. With the ball, she struck early, dismissing the formidable duo of Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney within the first 10 overs, disrupting Australia’s promising start.
This accomplishment adds to Sharma’s impressive track record. Notably, in the T20 World Cup last year, she claimed her 100th T20I wicket, surpassing her teammate Poonam Yadav and cementing her position as the leading wicket-taker in T20Is for India, across both men’s and women’s cricket. The resounding attendance at DY Patil Stadium mirrored the growing enthusiasm and support for women’s cricket, further underscoring the sport’s elevation and appeal among fans. As the series unfolds, Deepti Sharma’s monumental feat and her impactful performance in both batting and bowling stand as a testament to her skill and resilience on the field, leaving a lasting imprint on the sport’s history in India.