Smriti Mandhana remained an unstoppable juggernaut with a record-breaking half century but the rest of the team failed to make it count, going down by 23 runs in the opening Twenty20 International against New Zealand in Wellington on Wednesday.

Mandhana held the record for the fastest fifty by an Indian before the match and she bettered it by a ball during her 58-run knock at the WestPac Stadium. The Indian faced 34 balls in all but reached the 50-mark off 24 deliveries.

Mandhana and Jemiamah Rodrigues (39 off 33 balls) combined for a 98-run second-wicket stand that should have been a solid foundation for the rest of the line-up.

But India collapsed in the face of an inspired performance by pacer Lea Tahuhu, who played a decisive role with three wickets to derail India’s chase. India eventually folded for 136 in 19.1 overs.

From 102/1, India was down to 117/6 in a matter of five overs that turned the match on its head. Harmanpreet (17 off 15 balls) played out a small cameo, including a massive six off Kerr, but couldn’t steer the team home, failing to find any support at the other end.

Leg-spinner Amelia Kerr (2/28) clinched the crucial wickets of Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur to wreck the visitors’ chances. Off-spinner Leigh Kasperek also picked up a couple of wickets.

Veteran Mithali Raj was not picked for the match, continuing with the decision during the controversial World T20 semi-final. The next game of the series is scheduled to be held in Auckland on Friday.

Mandhana was her usual aggressive self and played another striking knock, studded with seven boundaries and three sixes.

Earlier, opener Sophie Devine smashed a 48-ball 62 in an enterprising innings to take New Zealand women to a challenging 159/4 from 20 overs after being put into bat.

Devine’s aggressive innings was laced with six boundaries and two sixes. She and captain Amy Satterthwaite (33 off 27 balls) shared a 69-run stand for the third wicket to steer New Zealand out of trouble after a stuttering start.

Spinners Radha Yadav and Poonam Yadav dismissed Suzie Bates (7) and Caitlin Gurrey (15) cheaply to reduce the home side to 47 for 2 at the end of the seventh over. But the Indians failed to make further dents with Devine and Satterthwaite denying them any success for 8.3 overs.

Devine and Satterthwaite fell in the space of six deliveries off the bowling of Arundhati Reddy and Deepti Sharma in the 16th and 17th overs respectively but New Zealand still made a late flourish by scoring 38 runs from the final 3.3 overs.

Wicket-keeper Katey Martin remained not out on 27 from 14 balls as the home team scored 16 runs from the final over. Martin hit a six off the second ball of the final over as well as from the last delivery of the innings.

With PTI inputs