Opener Smriti Mandhana scored an unbeaten 106 to guide India to a comfortable seven-wicket victory against West Indies in the ICC Women’s World Cup on Thursday at Taunton. Chasing a modest target of 184, India won with as many as 45 balls to spare, courtesy another superlative performance from the left-handed opener Mandhana.
After her match-winning 90 against hosts England, Mandhana started from where she had left the other day, hitting 13 fours and two sixes en route her second ODI ton. The 20-year-old is now the youngest Indian to score a World Cup hundred.
India could have been in a spot of bother at 33 for 2 but Mandhana and the ever-dependable skipper Mithali Raj who scored 46, added 108 runs for the third wicket virtually shutting the World T20 champions out of contest.
Raj was unlucky not to score her eighth consecutive half-century in ODIs missing by a mere four runs as she hit a loopy full toss from off-break bowler Hayley Mathews straight to Afy Fletcher at mid-off.
However, Mandhana did not let the second chance and hit some delightful strokes all around the park to get to her first World Cup hundred. When Shanilia Connell dug one short, she rocked to the backfoot pulling it over mid-wicket. She repeatedly found the gaps on the off-side and also hit some glorious shots on the on-side.
The century came when she charged down the track to loft Stafanie Taylor inside out. The hundred off only 105 balls. Fittingly, she finished the match with her 13th boundary to get a deserving second Player of the Match award.
Earlier, India’s troika of left-arm spinners Poonam Yadav and Deepti Sharma, and off-spinner Harmanpreet Kaur restricted the West Indies to a lowly 183 for 8 in 50 overs.
Mithali Raj opted to field and West Indies were comfortably placed at 69 for one in the 19th over before things fell apart and the current World T20 champions were tottering at 91 for 6. Deepti (2/27 in 10 overs), Poonam (2/19 in 10 overs) and Harmanpreet (2/42 in 10 overs) shared bulk of the spoils with opener Hayley Mathews being the top-scorer with 43.
Apart from the trio, the other impressive performer was another left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht (1/23 in 10 overs). The normally economical Jhulan Goswami (0/37 in 6 overs) went for runs as Mathews hit seven boundaries during her 57- ball knock.
Shanel Daley (33) and Afy Fletcher (36) showed some defiance down the order taking the score to plus 180, which at one point in time was looking improbable. The Caribbean batters found it difficult to hit leg-break bowler Poonam and the tight wicket to wicket bowling from Deepti and Ekta. Harmanpreet went for some runs but got crucial breakthroughs.If West Indies managed to cross 180, it was due to Fletcher and her 37-run stand with Anisa Mohammed (11).