Six follows seven and as Mithali Raj played in her sixth World Cup, two of her lower order put on a record seventh-wicket stand to defeat Pakistan.

When India fell to 114 for six with 16.5 overs still to go, Pakistan sensed the chance at a first World Cup victory over their arch rivals, and India’s choice to go with an extra bowler looked to be backfiring.

Enter Sneh Rana and Pooja Vastrakar.’s takeaways: Of talent depth and batting depth

  • Batting depth: Of course, we now know that the partnership between Vastrakar and Rana broke the all-time record for 7th wicket or lower partnerships in this record. Simply, no pair before them in the history for any country had done better. While that is the most impressive part of the win, that it came for India who are not exactly known for their batting depth in this format is also significant. Sample this: since 2018, before this match against Pakistan, only twice had India managed to add 50-plus for 7th wicket or lower. (And Vastrakar was involved in both. It was this aspect that helped India nearly end Australia’s record win streak too in the 2nd ODI of their recent series). It is crucial for India to have this depth with Rana and Vastrakar especially if they are going to load up their side with bowling options. If, for instance, Poonam Yadav had played in the XI in place of either of these batters (as we saw in the fifth ODI against NZ for instance), India might have struggled to post a winning total. 
  • Talent depth: That the defining performances came from two players who have been in and out of the playing XIs in ODIs recently and have not really been nailed on starters should also tell you that there is enough depth of match-winners in this Indian squad. The team is not dependent on the three or four biggest names to win them matches and that should also tell you (if you needed a reminder) that there is no evidence to say India don’t have the depth of talent beyond a few superstars. Rana and Vastrakar have both done their hard yards in the domestic circuit (they had a laugh at the end of the match in the press conference about being opposing captains in the recent four-team Challenger Trophy and how Rana was glad to see Vastrakar get out cheaply that day). These are the kind of players who have worked hard to get whey they are, over the years in the unforgiving domestic circuit and there is plenty of talent where they come from.
— Vinayakk Mohanarangan

Rana had made a match-defining 80 in last year’s Test against England but had never scored more than 30 in a one-day game.

Vastrakar had a fifty to her name but something similar seemed unlikely with Pakistan’s bowlers well on top with all but Fatima Sana having taken a wicket.

The right-hander was not fazed as she struck the first boundary for 15.4 overs, a sign of what was to come as the next five overs all went for five runs or more.

But Rana and Vastrakar were only just getting going, as India reached 40 overs and 160 runs the next three overs all went for at least 10.

Vastrakar would then go down with what seemed to be an injury to her left leg, but it halted her progress only temporarily.

India’s 200 was brought up in the 46th over with Rana on 39 runs from 37 balls and Vastrakar producing a run-a-ball 44.

The 22-year-old then delivered an excellent paddle shot to send Anam Amin’s delivery to the short fine leg boundary.

The India fans in a sell-out crowd had been making their voices heard all afternoon but fell silent with Vastrakar just two runs short of a half-century.

A single was all that would come off the next ball but the cheers returned, with the India team joining in, as she brought up her fifty off 48 balls.

Two more runs off the next ball saw Vastrakar move past 51, setting a new high score in one-day internationals.

In doing so, she matched Rana who had already well-eclipsed her high score, moving to 41 when their 100 partnership was brought up off just 83 deliveries.

With 16 balls of the innings remaining Vastrakar was dropped on 55 from 51, Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof chasing it down at full tilt as the ball flew over her head, her outstretched hands not able to latch on.

Rana’s fifty came up off a poor length delivery from Diana Baig, which was made to hit to the boundary, Rana did just that to reach her half-century off 45 balls.

Vastrakar pulled out all the shots as the innings neared its end, a reverse scoop was played with her hand supporting the underside of the bat, before four more came off the very next ball.

Just as it looked like Vastrakar would end the innings not out, Sana got her first wicket.

The leg stump knocked clean over, not for the first time today, despite having made 67 from 59 balls Vastrakar swayed her bat in frustration.

Her mood may have been lightened as her teammates clapped her back to the dressing room, a reminder of the rescue effort Rana and herself had put in.

And while their backs-to-the-wall partnership came to an end, their achievement will live on, their partnership off 122 the highest-ever for the seventh wicket.

It eclipses Nicola Browne and Sarah Tsukigawa’s stand for New Zealand against England in 2007 and comfortably beats Katherine Brunt’s 85-run partnership with Jenny Gunn in 2017, the previous best at a World Cup.

Her partner was still there at the end, finishing with 53 not out but was a spectator for the final ball as Jhulan Goswami hit a four.

Rana and Vastrakar had almost single-handedly rescued India to 244 for seven.

Vastrakar would not take the field for Pakistan’s innings, the adrenaline from her batting performance perhaps wearing off, but captain Mithali Raj said after the match it would not keep her out of their next game against New Zealand.

Swapping bat for ball, Rana took two for 27 as India bowled Pakistan out for 137, their run chase never got going.

Despite a collapse to 98 for seven for Pakistan, there was still time for another record to be broken, Richa Ghosh taking five dismissals, the first time a wicket-keeper had done so on World Cup debut.

It epitomised India’s afternoon - new talent producing performances far beyond their years - while Rana came good on her time in the wilderness with injury, showing it is never over until it is over.

Content courtesy: ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020

Best partnership in ODIs for wickets 7+

Partners For wicket Runs Inns Opposition Ground Start Date
S Rana, P Vastrakar (IND) 7 122 1 v PAK Mount Maunganui 6 Mar 2022
NJ Browne, SJ Tsukigawa (NZ) 7 104* 1 v ENG Chennai 23 Feb 2007
D Hazell, NR Sciver (ENG) 7 104 1 v SL Colombo (RPS) 17 Nov 2016
CE Eksteen, A Kuylaars (SA) 7 94 1 v ENG Taunton 28 Jun 2000
NJ Browne, KJ Martin (NZ) 7 90 1 v ENG Lincoln 24 Feb 2008
ESPNCricinfo Statsguru

Quotes corner

Sneh Rana:

“Actually, our top order collapsed so we decided to take on the charge and we decided to change and rotate the strike. The pitch was slow, so our plan was to focus on singles and doubles at the start.”

“The pitch was slow, so we decided we would focus on strike rotation. We told each other that knowing we are good strike-rotators, we’ll keep the scoreboard ticking and take the innings deep. Congratulations to her for the Woman of the Match of the award.”

“It was an emotional moment for me to represent India in a World Cup match after playing for so many years. Feeling very proud today.”

Pooja Vastrakar:

“We lost early wickets. We were the the last batting pair and afterwards, we had only bowlers. So, we planned to play basic cricket till 45th over, taking singles and doubles and then accelerate in last five overs.”

You can watch the press conference here.

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