Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier: Ireland Go To Top Of Group B, Scotland Keep Up Momentum

Dhabi, April 29 (IANS) Skipper Amy Hunter (71) and Gaby Lewis (69) struck half-centuries as a phenomenal batting display helped Ireland beat Zimbabwe while Kathryn Bryce starred with bat and ball in Scotland’s win over the USA at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier 2024 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium here on Monday.

Ireland topped Group B after their massive 56-run win over Zimbabwe powered by a terrific opening stand by Hunter and Lewis, who hammered 131 runs for the opening wicket in 14 overs.Meanwhile, Kathryn Bryce was at her best for Scotland as they overpowered the USA in the Group A fixture to complete their second win of the tournament.Hunter and Lewis sizzled with a 130-run opening partnership to help Ireland women post their fifth-highest total in women’s T20Is. Hunter began the innings with a bang, slamming a hat-trick of fours off the first three balls from Josephine Nkomo, who came into the game fresh off a four-wicket haul. With Lewis joining hands, Ireland got off to a flyer, racing to 59/0 inside the Powerplay. Lewis was the first to make a half-century, reaching the landmark off 36 balls. Hunter joined her soon, taking 34 balls for her fifty.

It was Kelis Ndhlovu who finally put an end to the opening partnership when she had Lewis caught out for a brilliant 47-ball 69. Nkomo sent back Hunter for 71 in the 17th over, but by then Ireland had already crossed the 150-run mark. They finished on 176/3 in their 20 overs to set a formidable target for Zimbabwe.In response, Ava Canning struck twice in the Powerplay, sending back Sharne Mayers and Chipo Mugeri-Tiripano cheaply to give Ireland an even stronger grip on the game.Skipper Mary-Anne Musonda and Modester Mupachikwa combined to lift Zimbabwe out of trouble and at the end of 10 overs, the team moved to 65/2, still quite some distance away from the big target.

Laura Delany broke the stand with the wicket of Mupachikwa, cleaning up the wicketkeeper for 27, but Musonda carried on for a bit more to finish on 48.Zimbabwe, however, went on to lose their next four wickets in the space of 22 balls and eventually finished on 120/8. They have one win in three games and will need a big one in their final game to stand a chance of making it to the semi-finals.Meanwhile, with two wins in two games, Ireland are at the top of Group B and are favourites to make the semis now.Scotland down USAScotland’s skipper Kathryn Bryce led from the front to help them to a 44-run victory over the USA and make it to two wins in three matches.

Put into bat first, Scotland encountered early jitters as they lost their openers Saskia Horley and Megan McColl inside the Powerplay. It was the fourth-wicket partnership between Bryce and Ailsa Lister that steadied the ship for the team. The duo added 66 runs in just 39 balls to swing the momentum back into Scotland’s favour.Lister’s knock of 34 (22) came to an end when she decided to step down the track against Aditiba Chudasama only to be stumped by keeper Sindhu Sriharsha. ICC Women’s Associate Player of the Decade, Bryce, held things under control from her end as she scored her ninth T20I fifty in 42 balls.

Her unbeaten knock of 57* along with Lorna Jack’s cameo of 20 (17) took Scotland to 149/6 in their 20 overs.In the bowling department too, it was Bryce who made the headlines. Opening the bowling, she picked up a wicket on her first ball, dismissing Gargi Bhogle for nought. She returned with her lethal inswingers in her second over and snared two more wickets – first rattling Disha Dhingra’s stumps and then trapping Sriharsha in the front. Both batters departed for ducks.The USA could only manage 26 runs for the loss of four wickets at the end of the Powerplay. Leg-spinner Abtaha Maqsood was brought into the attack to dismantle the middle order.

Maqsood dismissed Jessica Willathgamuwa (10) and Geetika Kodali (3) to reduce USA to 50/7.Isani Vaghela and Jivana Aras combined to stop the flow of wickets and added 39 runs in 45 deliveries. Vaghela played a crucial hand of 30 off 26 balls before Chloe Abel dismissed her while Aras remained unbeaten on 24.The USA could only manage 105/8 in their 20 overs, falling short by 44 runs as they recorded their second loss in a row in the Qualifier. Along with an unbeaten fifty, Bryce finished with her career best T20I figures of 4/17 to earn the Player of the Match award

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