Middle order batter Soniya Mendhiya and right-arm pacer Titas Sadhu led the way as India’s Under-19 women’s team defeated the New Zealand development team by 30 runs in the third T20 to bag the five-match series 3-0, at the Mumbai Cricket Association’s ground in Bandra Kurla Complex on Thursday.

Having won the first two matches by seven wickets and 110 runs respectively, Shweta Sehrawat and Co put in another efficient performance to win the series with two matches to spare. Opting to bat first, the hosts posted a total of 145/8, before restricting the visitors to 115/8 in 20 overs.

This series is crucial for the Indian team as they prepare for the inaugural edition of the ICC Women’s U19 T20 World Cup, which will be played in South Africa from January.

India made three changes to their playing XI for the third T20: Hurley Gala, who was a key performer in the first two games, missed out along with right-arm pacer Shabnam and left-arm spinner Mannat Kashyap. Sadhu and leg-spinner Parshavi Chopra returned to the side, while right-arm pacer Falak Naz got her first game of the series.

India got a 34-run opening stand as the in-form Soumya Tiwari and skipper Sehrawat mixed caution with aggression. Tiwari hit three drives through her favourite cover region but perished soon after for 16 off 21 to a short ball. She got hurried and her bat fell as she tried to pull the ball, offering a simple return catch to right-arm pacer Kayley Knight.

Sehrawat then hit just the second six of the series after stepping down the crease and thumping the ball straight, but she was out caught-and-bowled later in the over and looked distraught. The right-hander is yet to get a big score in the series after getting a duck in the first game and a 24-ball 34 in the second.

G Trisha (32 off 27) and Mendhiya (38 off 28), in at No 3 and 4 respectively, provided the biggest partnership for India with 63 runs. The two right-handers tried to be aggressive throughout and kept the Indian innings together through the middle overs.

Mendhiya, who got scores of 5* and 11* in the first two games, hit six fours in her knock and was the top scorer for India.

However, New Zealand fought back strongly thereafter and picked the next four wickets for just seven runs. Wicketkeeper-batter Hrishita Basu got a two-ball duck and Shikha scored 1 off 2 as the hosts found themselves in a spot of bother.

Sadhu then played a crucial cameo of 16 not-out from seven balls, even as India lost their last six wickets for just 26 runs. Right-arm medium pacer Kayley Knight was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers with figures of 4/24 from her four overs.

In reply, opener Olivia Gain was the only batter who provided New Zealand a significant contribution. The right-hander hit six fours and a six in her 35-ball 40, before miscuing one and being dismissed by Chopra.

It was Sadhu, however, who set the tone with the ball for India by picking wickets in consecutive overs. She first removed opener Anna Browning with a peach of a delivery that seemed to nip back in sharply, before finding Paige Loggenberg’s outside edge after hitting good areas consistently.

Sadhu (2/19), Chopra (2/15) and left-arm spinner Sonam Yadav (2/18) picked two wickets each, while Trisha dismissed New Zealand captain Prue Catton. Ocean Bartlett, who led New Zealand in the first two games, was not included in the playing XI in the third.

India had been impressive in the field in the first two games but couldn’t match that level on Thursday. Shikha dropped a straightforward catch at mid-wicket, Sadhu couldn’t get to a tough chance in the deep, while Basu completed two stumpings but missed one.

However, India, coached by former international cricket Nooshin Al Khadeer, will be satisfied by their performance so far and the series win. The two teams will face each other at the same venue in the fourth T20 on Sunday and the hosts would want to keep up the intensity.

India U19 women’s squad for T20s vs New Zealand: Shweta Sehrawat (c), Shikha Shalot, Trisha G, Soumya Tiwari (vc), Sonia Mehdiya, Hurley Gala, Hrishita Basu (WK), Nandini Kashyap (wk), Sonam Yadav, Mannat Kashyap, Archana Devi, Parshavi Chopra, Titas Sadhu, Falak Naz, Shabnam MD.

Schedule for the series

Date Time   Venue  
27-Nov-22    India won by seven wickets MCA BKC, Mumbai   
29-Nov-22    India won by 110 runs MCA BKC, Mumbai   
01-Dec-22    India won by 30 runs MCA BKC, Mumbai   
04-Dec-22    1:00 PM    MCA BKC, Mumbai   
06-Dec-22    1:00 PM    MCA BKC, Mumbai

Read the full scorecard of the third T20 here.