February 29, 2020 / 7:07 AM / a month ago

New Zealand survive Bangladesh scare to set up Australia showdown

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - New Zealand bowlers Hayley Jensen and Leigh Kasperek picked up three wickets each to help the White Ferns defend a low score to beat Bangladesh by 17 runs in the Women’s Twenty20 World Cup on Saturday and stay in the hunt for the semi-finals from Group A.

Playing her first match in the tournament, medium pacer Ritu Moni took a career-best 4-18 to help Bangladesh bundle their opponents out for 91 but their batsmen faltered in the modest chase and were skittled out for 74.

In the day’s second match in Melbourne, India continued their winning run with a seven-wicket victory over South Asian neighbours Sri Lanka to seal top spot in the group with their fourth victory from as many matches.

Left-armer Radha Yadav spun a web around the Sri Lankan batters with a match-winning bowling performance of 4-23 to restrict their opponents to 113 for nine.

Hard-hitting Indian opener Shafali Verma then smashed 47 off 34 balls to help her side chase down the target with 32 balls to spare. The 16-year-old hit seven fours and one six in her knock.

While Sri Lanka failed to defend their score, New Zealand’s effort made sure it was the lowest total successfully defended in the tournament.

New Zealand’s victory effectively set up a quarter-final against trans-Tasman rivals Australia on Monday with the winners to advance alongside India from the group.

Off-spinner Kasperek knew New Zealand’s batting needs to come good against the hosts and defending champions Australia if they are to progress.

“They’ll probably be a little bit disappointed in how they’ve gone but they’ve been hitting well in training and we’re lucky we’ve got the number one and number two batters in the world,” Kasperek said.

“You want your big players to step up in big games, so hopefully they can do that against Australia on Monday.

Bangladesh captain Salma Khatun also returned impressive bowling figures of 3-7 and did the early damage to remove New Zealand openers Sophie Devine and Rachel Priest, who top-scored for her side with 25.

In reply, Bangladesh also kept losing wickets at regular intervals and were not helped by the run outs of Fargana Hoque and Ritu Moni.

Nigar Sultana Joty top-scored for Bangladesh with an innings of 21, during which she also had to retire hurt after being hit on the face while attempting a sweep shot.

Jensen finished with figures of 3-11 with her medium pace while Kasperek finished Bangladesh’s innings in the final over by dismissing Joty to pick up 3-23.

“That was really a poor performance from us,” said Ritu. “We need to play regular cricket series with the top-ranked teams as that is the best way to help us improve.”

Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Christian Schmollinger

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