Principal Correspondent :
Vidarbha’s India cap holder Bharti Fulmali has become the lynchpin of women’s team. After each passing game in the Women’s One Day Championship under way at Chennai, the one down batswoman has eked out superlative knocks which helped Vidarbha win the battles. On Wednesday, riding on Bharti’s half century, her third in as many games, Vidarbha managed to beat Himachal Pradesh by 25 runs in the Elite Group E encounter at the VB Nest Ground. Bharti scored 67 runs which helped Vidarbha post a competitive 165 despite being in spot of bother for most of the one time. Her patient knock from 123 deliveries was the cornerstone of Vidarbha’s third win.
The meagre total of 165 was defended well by Vidarbha after left-arm spinner Nupur Kohale bowled a deadly spell which bundled out Himachal for 140 runs in 45.3 overs. Nupur, who had taken a fifer last year against Baroda, bowled nine overs and conceded just 19 runs and took four wickets which broke the rival team. Right-arm pacer Gargi Wankar too bowled a deadly spell early in the innings as she took two wickets giving away only 15 runs from 6.3 overs. All rounder Ayushi Thakre (6-0-18-0) and Disha Kasat (10-3-17-1) too put pressure on Himachal batswoman with their excellent bowling. Earlier, Vidarbha batswoman, barring Bharti, once again failed as they managed 165 from 50 overs. Vidarbha tried new opening combination with Vaishnavi Khandkar (14) sending in Shweta Naidu. But the wicketkeeper-batswoman was unable to make any impact and returned to pavilion getting run out without facing a delivery.
Bharti once again played the sheet-anchor’s role holding one end firmly even as wickets kept falling from the other end. She hit seven boundaries and a six in her match-saving innings. Ankita Bhongade (29) and Nupur (24) showed some grit to take Vidarbha’s score to 165. For Himachal, captain Sushmita Kumari took four wickets for 16 runs while Renuka Singh took two and Prachi Chauhan and Tanuja Kanwer one each. Kanwer emerged as the top scorer for Himachal with 30 runs while openers Kanish Verma and wicketkeeper-batswoman S M Singh scored 28 and 27 runs respectively. Vidarbha will now take on Delhi in their penultimate match on Friday.