to Mahirah Izzati Ismail. Mandhana scored 27 off 16 balls with the help of 5 boundaries. Jemimah Rodrigues joined Shafali and after a rain break, they forged a strong 86-run partnership for the second wicket with the former bringing up her half-century. After Shafali’s dismissal, keeper-batter Richa Ghosh hammered a 7-ball 21 while Jemimah scored an unbeaten 47 off 29 balls, powering India to 173 in 15 overs.
Earlier, the toss was delayed due to rain. Malaysia have won the toss and have opted to field first. Malaysia: Ainna Hamizah Hashim, Winifred Duraisingam (capt), Mas Elysa, Wan Julia (wk), Mahirah Izzati Ismail, Aina Najwa, Wan Nor Zulaika, Nur Arianna Natsya, Aisya Eleesa, Nur Dania Syuhada, Nik Nur Atiela. India: Smriti Mandhana (capt), Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Kanika Ahuja, Richa Ghosh (wk), Deepti Sharma, Devika Vaidya, Amanjot Kaur, Pooja Vatsrakar, Minnu Manni, Rajeshwari Gayakwad.
Harmanpreet Kaur-led Indian women’s cricket team will look to begin their quest for a first-ever Asian Games gold medal as they meet Malaysia in the first quarterfinal fixture. The top-ranked T20I team in the women’s cricket competition, Harmanpreet and Co. were seeded directly in the quarterfinals and they will take on Malaysia for a place in the semifinals.
The highly anticipated quarterfinal 1 fixture of 19th Asian Games will be played at the Pingfeng Campus Cricket Field, Hangzhou with the Indian women’s cricket team firm favourites for the gold medal. The captain Harmanpreet Kaur herself will not be able to feature given her 2-match ban although the Women in Blue will be in action from 6:30 PM IST onwards and they will be expected to ease past a Malaysian side.
The Indian team come into the Asian Games on the back of an eventful three-match ODI series against Bangladesh that finished 1-1. Before that, the Indian side had defeated Bangladesh 2-1 in the T20I series, and it was during the ODI that Harmanpreet lashed out at the umpires, rattling the stumps her bat in fury for which she was given a 2-match ban in July.
Smriti Mandhana is expected to lead the side in Harmanpreet’s absence and the Indian captain will only get a chance to feature in Hangzhou should her side qualify for the final.
With Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka also in the fray, India, the 4th ranked T20I side will be hoping for a first-ever gold medal in the Asian Games, after falling short of expectations previously at big tournaments.
Last year the Harmanpreet Kaur-led Indian team reached the final of the Commonwealth Games but they were beaten by Australia and thus had to settle for a silver.
The Indian women’s cricket team are likely to take on Bangladesh if they advance into the semifinals, such is the format of the tournament that they could meet Pakistan in the summit clash if all goes right.
Malaysia won’t be the most difficult challenge for the Indian team, but in the semifinal, they are most likely to miss their skipper Harmanpreet’s services. Should they find a way past a tricky Bangla Tigers unit that had given them plenty to worry about earlier this year, the gold would be more or less secured.