Shafali Verma’s 34-ball 46 followed by a fine performance from the bowlers helped India notch up a four-run win against New Zealand in their group A match of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Melbourne on Thursday.

With the win, India topped Group A, having beaten Australia and Bangladesh in their last two outings, and became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals.

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Asked to bat first, India posted 133/8 with wickekeeper Taniya Bhatia batting at No 3 and chipping in with a 25-ball 23. India, however, produced a disciplined bowling performance to restrict New Zealand to 129/6 and register their third successive win in the tournament.

Defending the total, India introduced spin straight away but Deepti Sharma leaked 12 runs with opener Rachel Priest (12) hitting her for two boundaries. But experienced pacer Shikha Pandey removed Priest in the next over when she had her caught at mid wicket.

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With Pandey and left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad bowling in tandem, New Zealand played with caution to reach 28/1. Back into the attack, Sharma then cleaned up Suzie Bates as New Zealand slipped to 30/2.

Poonam Yadav and Radha Yadav then mounted the pressure on the Kiwis and the Black Caps were soon reduced to 34/3 when the former dismissed skipper Sophie Devine (14).

Maddy Green (24) and Katey Martin (25) then tried to resurrect the innings with a 36-ball 43-run stand. However, Gayakwad returned to remove Green, who danced down the pitch only to end up with an outside edge to Bhatia.

Radha then dismissed Martin to leave New Zealand at 90/5 in 16.3 overs. Needing 44 off 21 balls, Amelia Kerr (34 not out off 19) blasted four boundaries to accumulate 18 runs in the penultimate over bowled by Poonam to bring the equation down to 16 off six balls.

In the final over, Heyley Jensen (11) and Kerr cracked a four each but Pandey held her nerves in the last ball to complete the win.

Earlier, 16-year-old Verma provided the fireworks as India reached 49/1 at the end of the powerplay. But they then lost six wickets for 43 runs to squander the good start.

Smriti Mandhana (11), who returned to the playing XI after missing the last match due to illness, departed early but Verma and Bhatia kept the scoreboard ticking, adding 51 runs for the second wicket.

In the 10th over, Bhatia was caught by Kerr at backward point, while Jemimah Rodrigues (10) was caught by Kerr in the 12th over as India slipped to 80/3.

Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur’s (1) poor form also continued as she was soon back to the hut after being caught and bowled by Leigh Kasperek.

Verma, who was dropped at long-on in the eighth over and at mid-wicket in the 10th over, then holed out to Jensen at deep extra cover. She hit four fours and three three sixes but looked tired in the second half of her innings.

Left-handed batter Deepti Sharma (8) and Veda Krishnamurthy (6) brought up the team’s 100 in the 15th over but they both departed soon as India slumped to 104/6.

Radha Yadav then blasted 14 off nine balls, which included a six in the final over, to take India past the 130 mark.

Brief scores

India: 133/8 in 20 overs (Shafali Verma 46; Amelia Kerr 2/21).

New Zealand: 129/6 in 20 overs (Amelia Kerr 34 not out; Shikha Pandey 1/21).

(With inputs from PTI)