Birmingham: Australia again stamped their class on women’s cricket by clinching a narrow nine-run win over Indian in the final of the Commonwealth Games at Edgbaston on Sunday.
Ashleigh Gardner pulled back Australia with two quick strikes after Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and Jemimah Rodrigues put on a 96-run partnership for the third wicket, chasing a target of 162 in 20 overs. After Megan Schutt broke the partnership by removing Rodrigues at 118, Gardner struck a twin blow to remove Harmanpreet for 65 to leave India 121 for five and the subsequent run outs under pressure handed back the advantage to Australia, dismissing India for 152 with three balls to spare.
Australian opener Beth Mooney top-scored with 61, but a terrific fightback from India in the last five overs meant that Australia finished at 161/8. Apart from the 74-run stand between Beth and captain Meg Lanning, Australia wasn’t allowed to break free as India conceded only 36 runs in the last five overs, taking five scalps. India were splendid in their fielding, making tight stops, taking brilliant catches and effecting terrific run-outs. With the ball, Renuka Thakur and Sneh Rana took two wickets each while Deepti Sharma and Radha Yadav had a wicket apiece.
Tahlia McGrath, playing despite testing positive for Covid-19, fell cheaply as Radha dived full length to her left at backward point to take a stunning catch off Deepti.
However, world champion Nikhat Zareen clinched the gold medal for India in the women’s 50kg light flyweight division by winning the final bout comprehensively.
The 26-year-old Indian defeated Northern Ireland’s Carly McNaul, a silver medallist from Gold Coast 2018, by unanimous decision. Nikhat won three of her bouts at Birmingham 2022 5-0 and one via RSC (referee stops contest).
In a close-range contest, the two boxers traded blows early on but Zareen prevailed with her combinations early on. With a mix of left hooks and crosses, the Indian contained the 33-year-old Carly McNaul in the opening round.
Carly McNaul continued to fight at close range and resorted to a lot of clinching even as the Indian boxer countered McNaul’s attacks. However, the efforts in the first two rounds were enough for Nikhat who went into evasive mode in the final round and sealed the bout and her maiden CWG medal.--IANS
In badminton, Two-time Olympic bronze medallist P.V Sindhu, World Championship bronze medallist Lakshya Sen and the top men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty made it to the finals in their respective sections as India set themselves for three gold in a final flourish.
Kidambi Srikanth lost in the men’s singles semi-finals as did the young women’s doubles pair of Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand. They will be fighting for the bronze medals as India looks set for a rich haul for the second successive Commonwealth Games. India had already won silver in the Mixed Team competition in Birmingham after losing to Malaysia in the final earlier this week.
Dipika-Saurav win mixed doubles bronze
India’s Dipika Pallikal Karthik and Saurav Ghosal won the mixed doubles bronze medal in squash, defeated Australian duo Donna Lobban and Cameron Pilley 2-0 (11-8, 11-4) at the University of Birmingham Hockey and Squash Centre.
Australia’s double world champion javelin thrower Kelsey-Lee Barber has again played the waiting game to perfection. After adding the 2022 world championship title in Oregon in July to her success in Doha in 2019, Barber travelled to England favoured to claim her first Commonwealth gold medal.
But on the eve of the opening ceremony on July 28, she tested positive to Covid-19, putting her into isolation and casting doubt over her participation.
It was not until Thursday that the 30-year-old received clearance to compete in the event, but she said the days spent in isolation recovering from the illness did not detract from her belief.
“Mentally, I coped. I wasn’t going to let it affect my performance today,” Barber said.
Best for the last
Seeking to complete the full set of Games’ medals after winning a bronze in Glasgow in 2014 and a silver on the Gold Coast four years ago, Barber saved her best throw for last.
She trailed her teammate Mackenzie Little, who threw a personal best of 64.27 meters, into the last round. But Barber responded with an effort of 64.43 meters to clinch the gold medal.
It continues a theme for the Australian, whose first world title in Doha was achieved with her last throw, so too the bronze medal she claimed at the Tokyo Olympics last year.
“I had great confidence from the world (championships) and a good feel for my javelin. I trusted that process, so today I was focused and knew what I wanted to achieve here,” she said.
“I’m not going to lie. It is nice to know I have the confidence I can keep lifting through a competition and I can find something in that last round.”