But they want to reduce that further, especially against a side like Australia. At the end of the Powerplay, Ireland were 44 for 2 compared to India’s 42 for 0; India had only reached 63 for 1 at the halfway point of their innings.
“Against England, we played too many dot balls,” Harmanpreet said. “Things like that we have already been discussing in team meetings. But sometimes, when the other team is bowling too well, at the end of the day, these wickets are something when you score 150, that’s a par score for you.
“World Cup games are always something where both the teams are always under pressure. I think these matches, if 150 is on the board, you always [have] the upper hand. We are not putting too much pressure on ourselves. We are just going [out] there and understanding what conditions are there and just playing according to the situation.
“Dot balls are something which [are] already worrying us. In the next game, we would love to see some improvement in that area also.”
India could have been under greater pressure when rain stopped play in the ninth over of the chase, with Ireland five runs behind the DLS par. They posted the highest total of the week’s worth of fixtures, but Ireland were slow to respond to the weather suddenly going wild after a week of largely glorious conditions at St. George’s Park in Gqeberha.
About halfway into India’s innings, what had been a pleasant breeze picked up so violently that it sent a large bouncy castle tumbling off the lawn beneath the scoreboard and over the fence onto the footpath outside – thankfully, no-one was injured.
Mandhana had some wind assistance as she slog-swept Laura Delany for a maximum and cleared long-on for another, having earlier dispatched Cara Murray over the deep midwicket boundary to bring up her 22nd T20I fifty.
But Ireland had no-one but themselves to blame in the fielding department – which had been positively ragged as they squandered an opportunity against a struggling West Indies side. They put down four chances to dismiss Mandhana, three times before she reached her half-century then once on 70 as she made Ireland pay.
‘Lots to learn’ from Smriti Mandhana
Harmanpreet, playing her 150th T20I, came in at No. 3 after Amy Hunter held on at deep square leg to remove Shafali Verma for 24. Shortly after her captain had reached 3000 T20I runs by flicking Orla Prendergast through midwicket for two, Mandhana truly hit her stride.
And by the time Harmanpreet departed for 13 off 20, well caught by Prendergast running in from deep midwicket in the 16th over, Mandhana had seized control.
“Initially I tried a few shots, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to convert those shots into the boundary,” Harmanpreet said. “Sometimes a player is having a good day and then everybody was dropping her catches and she just wanted to express herself. She told me, ‘better to give me singles than you taking risks’ and initially, that’s what we did.
“After 15 overs, then you have to take a risk from both sides, and then that’s what we decided to do. A few shots, she played really well, and because of her innings, we were able to score 150 because Ireland were really bowling well today and they were not giving us loose balls.
“At end of the day, when you win, you feel satisfied but I think a few areas, especially in batting, we want to sit and discuss how we have to go in the next game.”
“As a player the way she has grown, that is something the team appreciates,” Harmanpreet said. “There is a lot to learn from the brand of cricket she plays these days. That is something that motivates all the players.”
Ireland ‘didn’t take rain into consideration’
India had two wickets in first over of Ireland’s reply with Hunter run out before Renuka Singh, whose five-wicket haul went in vain against England, pinged the top of Prendergast’s off stump with one that angled in and beat the batter’s attempted flick to the off side.
Gaby Lewis was on 32 off 25 when rain stopped play and Delany, her captain who was unbeaten on 17 from 20 at the other end, said they had been taken by surprise somewhat as light drizzle turned to a heavy squall within what seemed like moments.
“To be honest, myself and Gaby hadn’t even looked at the D/L score,” Delany said. “I feel like the weather changed so quickly and we were so focused on what our plans were, where we were trying to target, what boundaries we were trying to take on, and what bowlers we were trying to take on. We didn’t even take it into consideration, so it’s definitely something that we can have a chat about going forward.
“It obviously is disappointing to come off the pitch and to lose by only a few runs, but it’s not something that we really spoke about at a huge amount out there.”
Ireland’s defeat extends their wait for a first-ever Women’s T20 World Cup victory, but Delany said she believes they are “heading in the right direction.”
She said: “There’s definitely areas that we need to work on, particularly in the field, and that’s been highlighted in pretty much every game. I thought today we took some really good catches, but then again, we let some catches go and when you play against some of the best sides in the world, they’re going to give you one or two opportunities. If you don’t take it, they’re just going to change the game.”
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor, women’s cricket, at ESPNcricinfo