When Veda Krishnamurthy came in to bat on Saturday against New Zealand in Derby, India were 154/4 in 36.3 overs.
The run-rate was just a shade over four. Smriti Mandhana was out cheaply. Harmanpreet Kaur and Deepti Sharma had fallen in quick succession. Mithali Raj was battling at the other end but she needed support. In the previous match, India’s lower order had fallen away against Australia after a promising start.
By the time, Krishnamurthy was out, caught in the deep off the second-last ball of the over, she had changed the complexion of the game completely. India had rocketed to 265/7, their second-highest score at this World Cup. It was all thanks to an incredible, stunning assault at the death from the 24-year-old from Karnakata.
Savour these numbers: 70 runs from just 45 balls. A strike rate of 155. Seven fours. Two sixes. The fastest fifty by an Indian cricketer in a Woman’s World Cup.
The knock that took India to the semi-finals.
Frankly by the end of her knock, New Zealand, who had come out with high intensity, had no idea what hit them, misfielding with alarming accuracy.
Krishnamurthy started relatively slow. Her first 10 runs came in 15 balls. And then she mixed power with fantastic accuracy. She used her feet expertly, picking off New Zealand’s spinners to kickstart India’s momentum. But she wasn’t afraid to go back to her power game, lining them up and slotting them home.
Coming as it did, just one match after Mithali Raj had rued a lack of support after the defeat against Australia, the timing was perfect.
The highlight of her assault was the 45th and 46th overs. Krishnamurthy was dropped off the first ball of the 45th over and then creamed three consecutive boundaries off Lea Tahuhu. She then kept the strike with a single on the last ball and then laid into Suzie Bates, hammering her for six, four and four off the first three balls of the over. Her partnership with Raj: 108 runs off 13 overs, a potentially game-changing one.
The funny part is that Krishnamurthy hasn’t even been a regular feature in the team. She came back into the team for the match against Sri Lanka and admitted that staying out of the team wasn’t easy. “It’s a little frustrating when you don’t get to play in the XI, because every time you comeback, you want to perform,” she said at that post-match press conference.
Fast forward to this do-or-die match and she played an innings that was perhaps the turning point. So much so that Raj said Krishnamurthy’s innings was as important as her century.
With knocks like this, Veda Krishnamurthy probably won’t need to make comebacks anymore.