Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues followed up a clinical bowling display to help India cruise to a nine-wicket win in the opening one-day international against New Zealand in Napier on Thursday.
Mandhana, ICC’s cricketer of the year in 2018, started off 2019 in fine fashion by scoring her fourth ODI century as she put on a 190-run opening partnership with Rodrigues. Mandhana fell for 105 at the very end of the run-chase while Rodrigues was unbeaten on 81, her career-best knock as she reached a half century for the first time in 50-over format.
The win was set up by Indian spinners Ekta Bisht (3/32), Poonam Yadav (3/42) and Deepti Sharma (2/27) who shared eight wickets between them as New Zealand were bowled out for 192 with eight balls to spare. India chased down the target in 33 overs.
With this, India’s tally in the ICC Women’s Championship table stands at 10 points from 10 matches as they move into the top four.
Having won the toss Mithali Raj opted to bowl first under overcast conditions. Jhulan Gosawmi, back in India’s colours in the 50-over format, started off well but Shikha Pandey couldn’t exert the same control from the other end. New Zealand openers Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine played sensible cricket, rotating the strike well in the first 10 overs and not going for extravagant shots.
The breakthrough came for India thanks to some sharp fielding from Deepti Sharma, who effected a direct hit from short cover to catch Devine short. From there, the spinners took over for India, drying up the runs and taking wickets in regular intervals. Bates, who top-scored for the White Ferns with 36, was dismissed by Sharma with Goswami taking a sharp low catch at short midwicket.
Captain Amy Satterthwaite and teenager Amelia Kerr tried to steady the ship with a patient fourth wicket stand. But once Yadav dismissed the captain with a clever piece of bowling — tossing it up wide when she was down the track, Rodrigues taking a juggling catch at cover — it was clear that the hosts would struggle to reach 200. That they got to 192 was largely due to a late cameo from Hannah Rowe.
In the end, that proved to be a target all too easy for India to chase down. Mandhana and Rodrigues barely looked troubled as they went about constructing the highest-ever opening partnership against the White Ferns. The stylish left-hander hit three sixes and nine fours in her innings while Rodrigues 81* was studded with nine hits to the fence.
“I think it’s great to start the series with a win and wonderful to see openers get an over 100-run partnership. I think lot of girls do look up to Mandhana. She had a great 2018 and she is continuing and it gives a lot of confidence to the dressing room,” India captain Raj said in the post-match presentation.
“But easy catches should have been taken though. We are definitely not overconfident,” she added.
Mandhana was declared player of the match for her classy century.
The second ODI will be played in Mount Maunganui on 29 January.
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