India bowling coach Rajib Dutta said the players were delighted and over the moon over winning the country’s first-ever gold medal in their maiden participation of women’s T20 event at the Asian Games on Monday.
Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues stitched a crucial 73-run partnership, followed by young fast-bowling all-rounder Titas Sadhu bowling a deadly spell of 3-6 in four overs to help India beat Sri Lanka by 19 runs for winning gold medal at Zhejiang University of Technology Pingfeng Cricket Field.
"They are happy. This is something they were looking for. When we took the flight, we talked about it, how important it is to do something for the country. We play world cups, but this is something different."
"You directly influence the medal tally. That never happens in a world cup, you are out there alone. So that was something we look forward to contributing to the metric. And what is better than having a gold?" said Datta to reporters after the event was over.
The gold medal in Asian Games is a huge prize and a historic moment for the Indian women’s cricket team after enduring a heartbreak at last year's Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, where they ended up with the silver medal after losing to Australia.
Electing to bat first, Smriti and Jemimah made 46 and 42 respectively on a tough pitch with turn and awkward bounce while also throwing up some puffs of dust. After the duo fell, India lost wickets in quick succession to finish with 116/7.
Titas, Player of the Match in U19 Women’s T20 World Cup final for her spell of 2-6 earlier this year, picked three wickets in a spell full of accuracy, including a double-wicket maiden first over.
Left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad took two wickets while Deepti Sharma, Pooja Vastrakar and Devika Vaidya had a scalp each to contribute in India's gold medal win in their first-ever participation in the event as Sri Lanka ended up at 97/8.
All-rounder Minnu Mani said winning the gold medal was a target for the side and were proud of clinching it. "I feel so proud. When we came together as a team, we had aimed for this. On this kind of wicket, we thought even if we scored something near the 120-run mark, we could defend it because we have a strong bowling unit. We all believed in them (the Indian bowlers) and they have done it."