Cricket is a game of slender margins, and no one will understand this better than Deepti Sharma. Her single mistake, crossing the landing crease by inches, cost India a birth in the semi-finals of ICC women’s World Cup 2022.
Winning the toss and opting to bat first, India put up a fighting total of 274 on the board. Their bowlers, albeit a little expensive, managed to do the job.
However, the final over decided the match’s fate in South Africa’s favor.
India’s Brilliance with the Bat in hand
India started the game on a positive note. Both their openers put up a 91-run stand to get their team on the driver’s seat. Verma scored a fifty in less than run a ball to give her team the perfect start.
Later, Mithali Raj, Smriti Mandana, and Harmanpreet Kaur added two fifties and a 48-run inning to take India’s total past the 250-run mark.
At the halfway stage, with 274 runs on board, they thought they had one foot in the semis.
The second inning didn’t go according to their plans though. It was a seesaw that kept changing sides in every quarter.
Some good bowling at the start of the inning saw India on top. But some loose bowling, especially by Sneh Rana, Gayakwad, and Vastrakar in the middle overs, brought South Africa back into the game.
Add to that some missed chances in the field, especially Mandana, who is known for excellent fielding. And South Africa was back on top.
A handy all-around performance by Harmanpreet Kaur with the ball saw India sneak ahead towards the end of the game. She gave away just 42 runs in her eight overs and picked up two crucial wickets.
As a result, despite Wolvaardt’s 80 and Goodall’s 49, the match hung in the balance.
High drama in the final over
With seven runs required off the last over, India got off to a good start by dismissing Chetty on the second ball. This brought down the figures to 5 required off 4.
Two singles in the successive consecutive balls and the figure were 3 of 2. And du Preez, holding off so well until now, finally lost it.
She skied one high to long-on in the fifth ball of the over. Harmanpreet Kaur didn’t make any mistake this time to complete a comfortable catch.
Cheers of joy were heard from the ground as the Indian spectators ran riot. They thought that now the match was indeed in their pocket.
Although, their joy was short-lived as the umpire asked the batter du Perez to stop. She referred to the TV umpire in order to determine whether it was a legal delivery. What followed next was horrendous.
The big screen showed Dipti’s leg stepping inches ahead of the landing crease. The ball was deemed as illegal, and the next ball, according to the rules, was supposed to be a free hit.
With the equation down to 2 from 2, South Africa didn’t falter. In the subsequent deliveries, they managed those two runs to return to winning ways.
While India’s campaign in the 2022 Women’s World Cup came to a sad end, South Africa managed to beat them by three wickets to spare.