Mandhana helps India beat Pakistan

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So India won. But there is always more to cricket than scores, fours, sixes and wickets. You’d have to be an expert in history, sociology and politics to catch all the subtext when they play Pakistan, although the state of relations between the two nations means the tournament only comes in tournaments now.

The planners always make sure to pair them in the group games, be it the World Cup, Champions Trophy, World T20 or Commonwealth Games. Illuminated by Smriti Mandhana’s brilliant batting, this match happened more beneath them than most of them.

These games are part of the ICC’s efforts to persuade the International Olympic Committee to include cricket in the Olympics. There are a billion and a half good reasons for them to do so, and another 20 million or so in the diaspora. India’s relative lack of success in other sports, winning 10 gold medals in 120 years of Olympic competition, has held the Games back in that market. But the individual athletes who have recently won gold medals, rifle shooter Abhinav Bindra and javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, have become so famous on the back burner that the International Olympic Committee has a pretty clear idea of ​​what it would be worth if they can break in. it.

Related: Commonwealth Games 2022 day three: cycling session canceled after big crash – live

Which is one reason why they recently agreed to hold their next annual session in Mumbai. Bringing in cricket would do that too. The problem is that the sport is not very well suited to the current goals of the Games. It is intricate and obscure, impenetrable to outsiders and often seems ridiculous even to those in the know. In Tokyo, Paris and Los Angeles, it would require large, complicated single-use premises that the local population would have very little use for. And that brings with it a huge number of players, all of whom need to be accommodated in the athlete village, but very few of whom actually have a chance to win the thing.

Additionally, the schedule is already so congested that it is unclear whether the ICC can even guarantee that the star players will even be free to compete in it. That’s why the Commonwealth Games host a women’s tournament. There was simply no room in the men’s form to fit this in. And the last thing the IOC needs when trying to sell the game to the Olympics is a tournament the most high-profile players skip because it’s so low. list of priorities. Oh yes, and it’s completely at the mercy of the weather, so if it rains the TV companies have nothing to show.

The flip side, as any right-thinking person knows, is that cricket is the greatest sport walking, ranking somewhere between the Mona Lisa and the moon landing among the pinnacles of human achievement.

Sneh Rana dismissed Pakistan's Muneeba Ali and Bismah Maroof in a single over.

Sneh Rana dismissed Pakistan’s Muneeba Ali and Bismah Maroof in a single over. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

India v Pakistan, the tournament’s tentpole match, showcased some of the best and the worst. The start was delayed twice due to rain, and for a period it looked as if they might struggle to play at all. It finally managed 35 minutes after the scheduled start, which meant the innings were reduced to 18 overs each, the powerplay cut to five overs, and three bowlers in each team could bowl four overs each and two more could bowl three. Just try putting all of that into a snappy thirty second video to explain the laws to a new audience. Not that they needed it at Edgbaston.

There were enough people here, but it was not the sold-out audience the organizers had promised. Midway through the day, the organizers offered everyone free entry to the second match of the day, between Australia and Barbados, a sensible response to the fact that sales have not gone as well as they could have. They issued a press release midway through the Games that they had broken the record for total ticket sales at a women’s tournament, but even so, the stadium wasn’t half full yet. There is talk that people bought tickets then didn’t come, maybe because they didn’t realize it was a women’s match, maybe because it clashed with other events.

More trick them. For it was a brilliant match, with more than enough action to make up for the fact that India won it so easily. Pakistan’s innings turned in the ninth over, bowled by Sneh Rana. They had been one for none after nine balls, but Muneeba Ali and Bismah Maroof rebuilt the innings with a 50-run partnership.

Then Rana dismissed them both in a single over, Maroof lbw, Ali took-and-bowled. A couple of run-outs later in the innings meant Pakistan never really recovered and they lost five wickets in the last eight deliveries trying to get their total past a hundred.

Mandhana then put on some spectacular power batting, fours to all corners, sixes down the ground and over mid-wicket. Her 50 came off 31 balls and the match was all but over by the time she reached it. In the stands they laughed and danced and roared and sang as she did it, and perhaps, far away in their headquarters in Switzerland, the IOC was watching and listening with one eye on the TV ratings in India, the other on the stands. timetable for LA 2028.

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