When India’s Deepti Sharma and Punam Raut, a makeshift opening pair since Smriti Mandhana was injured, came out to bat against Ireland in the quadrangular series in Potchefstroom, little did anyone expect they would leave the field as record breakers.
On May 15, 2017, playing the eighth match of the pre ODI World Cup series in South Africa, India elected to bat first. Over the next couple of hours, neither opener was dismissed and with 320 runs, they set the record for not only the highest partnership in women’s ODI cricket but also the then highest opening stand across genders.
Raut and Sharma became the first pair to go past 300 runs in women’s ODIs and their stand was the first time any opening pair, across genders, had crossed 300 for the first wicket. Pakistan’s Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman became the second when they made 304 against Zimbabwe in 2018.
Deepti Sharma, only 19 at the time, scored a terrific 188 from 160 balls, hitting 27 boundaries and two sixes while Poonam Raut finished with 109 before retiring hurt.
Sharma’s 188 was also the second-highest score in women’s cricket at the time after Belinda Clark’s unbeaten 229 for Australia. She was adjudged the Player of the Match.
The first wicket fell in the 46th over when Sharma was bowled but India went on to post 356/2 in 50 overs. In response, Ireland were bowled out on 109 and India win the match by 249 runs.
“After I got to my century, I decided to shift gears and challenged myself to score boundaries even off deliveries that would have otherwise fetched me ones or twos. I wasn’t being ambitious; I was only trying to implement a few plans,” Sharma told ESPNCricinfo after the knock.
This record came at a time women’s cricket in India was still fighting from the edges for relevance. That would change when Mithali Raj and Co would make a stunning run to the final of that year’s ODI World Cup final in England, falling short by just nine runs.
The Indian pair held the record for the highest opening partnership in ODIs across men’s and women’s cricket till May last year, when West Indies batsmen John Campbell and Shai Hope set the record for the highest first-wicket stand. Their partnership of 365 runs was also the second-highest for any wicket in ODIs. The record for the highest score in women’s ODIs is now with New Zealand’s Amelia Kerr, who made 232 against Ireland in 2018. ssBoth Sharma and Raut recounted that record moment from three years ago on Twitter.