Openers Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana starred with half-centuries as India started the Twenty20 International series with a resounding 84-run win over hosts West Indies to take a lead in the five-match series late on Saturday night.
The duo put up a stand of 143 runs to set the tone for a formidable 185/4 before the bowlers swept away the match in St Lucia. This is the joint-highest T20I score against former world champions West Indies.
The 15-year-old Verma got India to a sensational start, scoring her first 40 off 15 balls to bring up the 50-run partnership in just 24 balls. Aided by as many as three dropped catches, Mandhana joined the party as India raced to 100 runs in just about 10 overs.
Verma scored her first international fifty off just 30 balls, becoming the youngest Indian to score a half-century in international cricket. Mandhana, playing just her second match after comeback from injury, joined her soon after with her second straight fifty.
The partnership was broken only in the 16th over as Verma’s superb knock came to an end for 73 off 49 as she was caught off Shakera Selman, who was making her return from injury.
The Indian batting lineup then threatened another collapse as three wickets – Mandhana (73), Pooja Vastrakar (0), and Deepti Sharma (3) – fell in consecutive overs. However, captain Harmanpreet Kaur (21) and Veda Krishnamurthy (15) stitched up a good cameo to ensure India’s innings ended on a high.
In response, West Indies started with nine runs off the first over but were put out of the game not long after. Shikha Pandey and Radha Yadav struck early blows and the the rest of the bowlers kept them coming.
Shemaine Campbelle (33) was the only batter to cross 15 runs but her innings came to an end after a suicidal mix-up with Stacy-Ann King. In the end, West Indies managed to not be all out, finishing on 101/9 after 20 overs.
The next match of the series is less than 24 hours away (11 pm IST on Sunday) and the 2016 World T20 champions will look to regroup and level the series.