Batting second under lights and facing spinners – is there a winning formula here? India’s brittle middle-order was left exposed by Anisa Mohammed and Stafanie Taylor in the nail-biting first One-day Internationalof the ICC Women’s Championship series in Antigua on Friday. The pattern continued on Sunday as West Indies surrendered meekly to the well-oiled spin machinery of India on a day where Rajeshwari Gayakwad outshone spearhead Poonam Yadav for India.

The result was never in doubt as soon as Mithali Raj brought on the spinners after the tenth over with West Indies chasing 192. Despite Shikha Pandey’s opening spell that had zing and bite, Natasha McLean was looking to free her arms; the big-hitting opener likes the ball coming on to her bat.

But West Indies’ chase lost any kind of momentum as soon as Gayakwad and Yadav started bowling in tandem. The leg-spinner created familiar problems that we have come to see from teams that play India. The batter needs to generate all the power and there is little one can do about Yadav’s loop, regularly bringing them forward and taking the big hits out of the equation.

Deepti Sharma then came to the party. While it was her swashbuckling batting that stood out for Western Storm more than a month ago in England’s T20 league, it was Sharma’s bowling that played a key role in India whitewashing South Africa at home. It was not smooth sailing for the 22-year-old in the beginning compared to the world-class standards that Gayakwad and Yadav were operating on.

Sharma, though, gradually got better and she has always managed to effect breakthroughs at crucial junctures in the game. The wicket of Taylor, who was looking good in her brief stay, ensured that India were in the driver’s seat; the required rate was steadily creeping up, and with McLean being stretchered off after cramping up, Shemaine Campbelle was left with too much to do.

Gayakwad, however, was the pick of the lot. Replacing Ekta Bisht in the XI, her arm ball was a revelation and was getting prodigious turn, something that was not seen when her counterparts Mohammed and Afy Fletcher were bowling.

Mithali Raj the skipper also earns a lot of credit for suffocating the Windies batters. The hosts were in the game till the 25th over. Despite creating difficulties for the batters, the Indian slower bowlers were not rewarded with wickets until that stage of the game. Sharma’s dismissal of Taylor saw West Indies lose another four in the in the next 37 deliveries.

But, it was Mithali’s batting that led India’s recovery act with the series on the line. Jemimah Rodrigues and Priya Punia fell cheaply to some terrific bowling by the Windies in the powerplay.

Punam Raut was taking her time to settle in but it looked as though 36-year-old, looking to bail her team out from a sticky situation, was somehow manipulating the bowlers into bowling hittable lengths. Despite scoring only 40, it gave a good platform for Harmanpreet Kaur and Raut to pull India close to 200.

As far as the bowling is concerned, the wealth of options Mithali has, or has had for a number of years now, will be a subject of envy to many a captain. Ekta Bisht was the stand-out performer during the South Africa series. The left-arm spinner had an off day on Friday and in came Gayakwad to weave her own bit of magic.

Add the part-timers of Harmanpreet Kaur in the mix and in such a scenario – chasing under lights on a slow pitch – the Indian tweakers, more often than not, hold all the aces. They have done it so consistently over the years and have been central to almost every series win that India has been a part of in the recent past.

Ensuring that veteran Jhulan Goswami continues peak performance will also hold the key as the clock ticks towards qualification for the 2021 World Cup. The immediate focus, however, is to pocket their sixth consecutive ODI series win, and their third away from home. And the spinners ensured India were back on track to achieve that goal.