Guyana: India rode their spinners' good show to beat Ireland with a comfortable 52-run margin and enter the semi-finals of the ICC Women's World T20 at the Providence Stadium here on Thursday.
After managing 145/6, the tweakers maintained a tight leash on Irish women restricting them to 93/8 in 20 overs. Courtesy their third win, India now has six points and are assured of a last-four spot along with Australia (6 points from 3 games) with New Zealand, Pakistan and Ireland already even before their campaign could officially end.
The spinners Radha Yadav (3/25), Deepti Sharma (2/15), Poonam Yadav (1/14) and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (1/10 in 4 overs) picked wickets at regular intervals although India's batting performance left a lot to be desired.
Ireland was never in the chase conceding as many as 65 dot balls (nearly 11 overs). Once Deepti got the wicket of Gaby Lewis (9) with an off-break and Poonam's leg-break saw the end of Clare Shillington (23) stumped by Taniya Bhatia, Ireland had no chance whatsoever.
Earlier, former skipper Mithali Raj once again came to India's rescue with a fluent half-century to help the women-in-blue post a below-par 145/6.
Mithali, who top-scored with a 56-ball 51, laced with 4 fours and a six, did not find a stable partner at the other end, thanks to some casual batting from her teammates and immaculate bowling from the Irish women.
In the process, the veteran right-hander also created a new record of being the highest run-getter for India in T20Is with 2283 runs.
Rohit Sharma (2207 runs) is the second in the list, followed by men's team skipper Virat Kohli.
Put in to bat, India got off to a steady 67-run start from Mithali and Smriti Mandhana (33 off 29 balls; 4X4, 6X1) before the southpaw once again departed after getting a decent start.
The young Jemimah Rodrigues (18 off 11; 4X3) got off to a brisk start and quickly added 40 runs for the second wicket with Mithali before being stumped off Irish captain Laura Delany's bowling.
Thereafter, the in-form India skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (7) and No.5 Veda Krishnamurthy (9) departed in quick succession, leaving India reeling at 127/4.
Mithali, however, waged a lone battle bringing up her sedate half-century off 54 deliveries but perished soon, caught behind off Kim Garth.
Towards the end, Dayalan Hemalatha (4), Deepti Sharma (10 not out) and Radha Yadav (1 not out) failed to accelerate the scoring rate as India ended up with 145.