Riding on a historic century by captain Harmanpreet Kaur, India got their ICC Women’s World T20 campaign off to a rousing start with a 34-run win over the higher-ranked New Zealand side on Friday at the Providence Stadium, Guyana.
Kaur became the first Indian woman to score a T20I century to help India post 194/5, which was the highest score in a Women’s World T20 game and that was followed up with a clinical bowling effort.
Having won the toss and elected to bat, India were off to a difficult start, losing three wickets in the powerplay. Taniya Bhatia, a surprise choice for opener, was dismissed in the second over by Lea Tahuhu. Smriti Mandhana was the next to go in the fourth over, thanks to a stunning catch in the deep. Debutant Dayalan Hemalatha fell in the sixth over which brought together Jemimah Rodrigues and Kaur.
From 40/3, the duo added 134 runs which is the highest T20I partnership for India for any wicket at the World T20. India added a staggering 118 runs in last 10 overs, thanks to a flurry of boundaries and sixes by Harmanpreet.
Kaur started off slow, scoring 5 runs off her first 13 balls. From there on, she accelerated and how. The next 20 balls saw her score 45 runs as she scored the fastest half century in a World T20 match. She brought up her century off 49 balls, taking just 16 balls for her second fifty. She was eventually dismissed for a 51-ball 103 in the final over, after hitting seven fours and eight sixes.
Rodrigues always displayed maturity beyond her age to become the youngest Indian to score a world T20 half century. She provided able foil to her captain after overcoming a nervy start.
Chasing 195 for the win, New Zealand were off to a good start thanks to Suzie Bates, the top-ranked batter in the format. After a wicket-less powerplay, however, India started striking in regular intervals. The four spinners employed by Kaur bowled some tight line and length despite Bates’ fighting innings of 67. The White Ferns opener kept losing partners, with Hemalatha striking in her first over followed by two wickets in one over for Poonam Yadav.
New Zealand couldn’t quite recover from here, and once Arundhati Reddy dismissed Bates, it was a matter of time before India wrapped up the win.
Poonam and Hemalatha took three wickets each while Radha Yadav finished with two wickets.
India next face Pakistan on Sunday, while New Zealand take on Australia in their second match in three days, which becomes a must-win for the White Ferns.