Yastika Bhatia scored a half-century, while Sneh Rana came up with all-round heroics (27 and 4/30) in a must-win situation as India secure a convincing 110-run victory over Bangladesh in the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup league match at Seddon Park here on Tuesday.
The win helped the runners-up of 2017 edition of the tournament move up to third spot on the points table with three wins and an equal number of losses. But more importantly, it's the healthy +0.768 Net Run Rate (NRR) that could help India make the semifinal knockouts if multiple teams finish their assignments on identical points.
Not to forget that the Mithali Raj-led India will also have to win their last league game against South Africa at Christchurch on March 27.
It wasn't all smooth sailing for India, though, as they were struggling at 176/6 before Sneh Rana and Pooja Vastrakar finished with a flurry to set Bangladesh a target of 230. Yastika Bhatia was the star of the show with a patient 80-ball 50. As wickets kept falling, she stitched two crucial partnerships with Harmanpreet Kaur and Richa Ghosh to keep the scoreboard ticking in the middle overs.
Rana was brilliant with the ball as well, finishing with four wickets that broke the back of Bangladesh's batting line-up. All the Indian bowlers looked unplayable from the word go and were rewarded for their tight bowling with wickets as the required run rate kept climbing for the opponents.
Bangladesh's chase never took off as only five batters registered double-digit scores, with Salma Khatun top-scoring with 32.
Defending 230, India chose to open the bowling with pace-bowling stalwart Jhulan Goswami and spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad. Rajeshwari broke through first by dismissing Sharmin Akter while the veteran pacer kept things tight at the other end. India struck once again in the Powerplay through Pooja Vastrakar, who trapped Fargana Hoque in front of the stumps.
With spinners operating at both ends on a slow track, Bangladesh found getting runs tough. Sneh Rana, who created several chances in her first spell, was rewarded with the wicket of Nigar Sultana, who holed out at mid-on attempting to accelerate. Poonam Yadav claimed her first World Cup wicket by dismissing Murshida Khatun, whose 54-ball 19-run innings came to an end in the 16th over.
Rumana Ahmed's stay at the crease didn't last long either, with Rana picking up her second wicket of the game as Bangladesh lost half their side. Lata Mondal and Salma Khatun provided some resistance with a 40-run stand before Goswami got in on the act to remove Khatun.
Rana picked up wickets in consecutive overs and eventually finished with a four-for. Goswami finished things off with a wonderful yorker to dismiss Ritu Moni as Bangladesh fell short by 110 runs.
Earlier, Shafali Verma (42) and Smriti Mandhana (30) got India off to a flying start after they opted to bat first, with the duo putting on 74 for the opening wicket until disaster struck on the final ball of the 15th over. Mandhana hit Nahida Akter straight to Fargana Hoque and then Ritu Moni got in on the act during the next over to turn the game on its head quickly.
Shafali Verma tried to hit one out of the ground and was stumped, before skipper Mithali Raj hit her first ball straight to Fahima Khatun at cover as India were quickly reduced to 74/3.
Bhatia and Harmanpreet Kaur repaired the innings but it came at the cost of the run rate falling - their 34-run partnership came in 70 balls before Hoque's direct hit caught Kaur short of her crease.
India once again had to rebuild their innings with Ghosh joining Bhatia at the crease. The wicketkeeper-batter took the attack to the bowlers early on, smashing Lata Mondal for consecutive boundaries in the 30th over. The duo kept finding the boundaries regularly but just when they looked set, Ghosh was caught behind trying to cut a ball that was too close to the body.
Bhatia got to her second fifty of the tournament but fell off the very next ball attempting the paddle sweep. At 180/6 at the end of 44th over, India needed to finish well and Rana and Vastrakar did just that. Their partnership of 48 in 38 balls propelled India to 229/7.
Brief scores: India 229/7 in 50 overs (Smriti Mandhana 30, Shafali Verma 42, Yastika Bhatia 50, Richa Ghosh 26, Pooja Vastrakar 30 not out, Sneh Rana 27; Ritu Moni 3/37) beat Bangladesh 119 in 40.3 overs (Salma Khatun 32; Jhulan Goswami 2/19, Pooja Vastrakar 2/26, Sneh Rana 4/30) by 110 runs.