Deepti, Shafali play starring roles as India storm into seventh Asia Cup final

Thailand's chase fizzles out early as spinners trigger collapse to lead India's third straight win

India 148 for 6 (Shafali 42, Harmanpreet 36, Tippoch 3-24) beat Thailand 74 for 9 (Chaiwai 21, Boochatham 21, Deepti 3-7, Gayakwad 2-10) by 74 runs

Deepti Sharma’s miserly 3 for 7 and Shafali Verma’s all-round show ended Thailand’s fairytale run in the Women’s Asia Cup. India’s thumping 74-run win in the first semi-final confirmed their seventh successive Asia Cup final appearance. Thailand managed to play out their entire quota of 20 overs despite a middle-order collapse.

Fielding first, Sornnarin Tippoch picked up three wickets as Shafali and Harmanpreet Kaur, back after missing the last two matches due to a niggle, dragged India to a middling 148 for 6.

While they were restrictive with the ball, the difference between the two sides became most apparent when Thailand batted against India’s accurate bowling attack. This time, however, Thailand improved on the previous 37 all out they made against India in the league phase of the competition, finishing on 74 for 9 in their 20 overs.

Shafali capitalises on missed chances

Smriti Mandhana looked patchy all through her brief stay in the middle before she holed out to mid-off, but Shafali continued her excellent form with the bat. She had a few slices of luck but made sure to capitalise. India moved to 47 for 1 in the powerplay, with Shafali and Jemimah Rodrigues solidifying the start.

Shafali struck the ball powerfully straight down the ground and collected most of her boundaries in the long-on region. She hit her only six over long-on fielder’s head, apart from the five fours. Shafali, who survived a missed stumping chance, a run-out opportunity and a dropped catch, finally fell in the tenth over when captain Naruemol Chaiwai grasped on to a good catch at short midwicket off Tippoch’s first ball.

India fail to lift off against restrictive Thailand

Thailand made sure India never really ran away with the game while batting. Harmanpreet took over from Shafali, hitting 36 off 30 balls with four boundaries. But she saw Rodrigues fall to a catch at long-on for 27 before Tippoch had Richa Ghosh lbw for 2. Harmanpreet fell in the 18th over when Natthakan Chantham completed her catch at the deep midwicket boundary, a ball after she was dropped at deep square leg.

India could only manage 31 runs in the last five overs despite having wickets in hand with Deepti falling off the last ball of the innings.

Deepti Sharma picked up three wickets for just seven runs off her four overs•Asian Cricket Council

Miserly Deepti leads Thailand’s collapse

Deepti began India’s defence and had the Thailand batters clueless from the get-go. She picked up the first three wickets with her flighted offbreaks. Opener Nannapat Koncharoenkai survived in the third over when Shafali dropped a sitter running in from square leg. But a couple of balls later, she corrected herself, snapping up the batter who failed to keep her sweep down.

Deepti then had Chantham caught at deep midwicket in her next over, before adding Tippoch’s wicket to her tally, caught behind for five, in her last over.

Chaiwai and Nattaya Boochatham added 42 runs for the fifth wicket, but the partnership spanned 11.1 overs, with Thailand adopting a safety-first approach rather than going after the target head-on. Rajeshwari Gayakwad took two wickets while there was one each for Renuka Singh, Sneh Rana and Shafali as India ambled to the finish line.