Photo Credit: ICC
Sneh Rana would have watched the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup from home had it been played when scheduled but the India all-rounder continues to make up for lost time.
The 28-year-old had spent five years in the international wilderness before her return last year but impressive performances across all formats have since made her a must-pick.
And she delivered the latest of them to keep her side’s semi-final hopes on track against Bangladesh in Hamilton, impressing with bat and ball as India eased to victory in a must-win encounter.
Rana’s first impact came in the death overs of India’s innings when quick runs were necessary.
A fast start had been halted by three wickets in five balls and though Yastika Bhatia’s half-century steadied the ship, her departure brought Rana to the crease with India on 176 for six with just under seven overs remaining.
Together with Pooja Vastrakar, Rana ensured India made it past 200 as the pair added 48 in 38 deliveries, with Rana’s 27 from 23 making her the only player on either side to score at a strike rate above 100 on a slow pitch.
Defending 229, India were in control from the outset as Rajeshwari Gayakwad claimed an early wicket and conceded just four from as many overs in her opening spell.
Rana replaced her spin twin at the start of the 10th over, with Bangladesh struggling on 15 for two, and there was no let-up.
She created chances almost immediately, with Murshida Khatun fortunate to see a loose drive fall just short of point before an outside edge from the same batter escaped the clutches of Richa Ghosh behind the stumps.
Rana claimed the wicket she deserved when Bangladesh skipper Nigar Sultana chipped to mid-on and doubled up soon afterwards when Rumana Ahmed was caught at short leg.
The off-spinner finished her first spell with two for 13 from five and returned to complete a career-best effort later in the Bangladesh innings, Fahima Khatun trapped lbw attempting a sweep and Nahida Akter providing a routine return catch.
Two Jahanara Alam boundaries in Rana’s final over slightly tarnished her figures but four for 30 remained a fine effort, Rana dovetailing effectively with Gayakwad – who conceded just 15 from her 10.
It wasn’t all about the spin for India, a point skipper Mithali Raj was keen to point out after the game, as the experienced Jhulan Goswami and youngster Pooja Vastrakar claimed two wickets apiece with their medium pace.
The latter, along with Rana, is now among the six players to have taken their wickets column into double figures in this tournament. The fact that two of the others, Marizanne Kapp and Shabnim Ismail, belong to South Africa makes Sunday’s crunch clash between the two all the more intriguing.
It’s one India are likely to need a win in to seal a place in the last four and with their spinners in this kind of form, they have more than a fighting chance.