Scores 103 off 51 balls as India registered a convincing 34-run win over T20 World No. 2 New Zealand.
The hitting was audacious and the sixes incredibly mammoth. In the press conference before the match, Harmanpreet had said that she looked to inspire other players by her performances. Well, the skipper did just that, with a scintillating 51-ball 103 knock to help India post a steep total of 194 for New Zealand in the opening match of the Women’s World T20 in West Indies.
Along the way, Harmanpreet Kaur also became the first Indian woman to record a century in the sport’s shortest format.
Captain Harmanpreet Kaur chose to bat first, as the flat pitch in the Providence stadium was to change over the course of the contest.
However, it was a nervous start for the Indians, with openers Taniya Bhatia and Smriti Mandhana soon returning to the pavilion. The latter’s dismissal was a spectacular one, with New Zealand’s Harley Jensen taking a very athletic catch close to the boundary.
Debutant Hemlatha too had a poor outing as she was dismissed by Kasperek after scoring just 15 runs. India looked to be wading in the troubled waters, but for the two women.
When Jemimah Rodrigues and Harmanpreet Kaur shared the crease, India was reeling at 40/3. They needed to build a partnership, and the two did exactly that.
While at one end of the pitch, the 29-year-old captain hit New Zealand bowlers for boundaries, on the other Rodrigues proved to be the anchor as she cleverly played safe and regularly rotated the strike. One forgets that the young batswoman is just 18-years-old, such is the temperament and maturity level of Jemimah.
Harmanpreet was in a destruction mode as she shot 7 fours and 8 sixes. Most notable of those knocks came in the 10th over, as Kaur hit Jesse Watkin for 2 sixes. She played shots in all directions of the wicket, most effectively in the long-off, deep mid-wicket and long-on the region.
Jemimah, with her 59, became the youngest cricketer to hit a half-century in World T20s.
Soon, India was cruising under the stewardship of the two players, who amassed as much as 56 runs in 5 overs at one point of time. Although New Zealand got hold of the two in-form batswomen, the damage had already been done. The partnership had yielded 134 runs.
India ultimately wrapped the innings by posting a steep total of 194/5.
Facing a stiff target, New Zealand was off to flying start as veteran opener Suzie Bates (67) and Anna Peterson (14) raced their way to a score of 52 in just under seven over. However, this challenge was short-lived.
Although Bates kept on holding her ground, on one hand, the Kiwis kept on losing wickets on the other. After Peterson was dismissed, Devine and Watkin soon followed the suit. The contest was virtually closed when New Zealand’s last hope, Suzie Bates was dismissed by Reddy in the thirteenth over. To her credit though, Bates became the highest run-scorer in the T20 Internationals.
The rest of the innings was nothing more than a formality. One name worth mentioning would be that of KJ Martin, who scored a timely 39 to at least alleviate the net-run-rate of her side.
India’s spinners were in top-form, as expected, with the flat and slow tracks totally supporting them. Hemlatha made amends to her disappointing batting display by scalping three crucial wickets.
Poonam Yadav too took three wickets to help India to a 34-run victory.
The women in blue now face Pakistan in their next World T20 match.