India Women nailed the second qualifier match for World Cup semi-finals. It was Mithali Raj, the captain herself, batting phenomenally to wipe pass her woes in the first qualifier against Australia. With an impressive 109 off 123 balls, the captain lifted India’s score to a challenging 265 for New Zealand. Black Caps felt the heat and scramble to the pressure, inflicted by a single-handed attack of Rajeshwari Gayakwad. The 19 years old, established herself as the top gun knocking five wickets. While Raj was the hero of the first inning, Gayakwad nailed it in the second. The defeat by 186 runs was not less than a shock for New Zealand Women. Their last inning this World Cup season lasted only 25.3 overs.
It was the sixth ODI-hundred of the Indian Skipper. Throughout the inning, her batting had a single impression, and that was ‘perseverance’. The Captain who reads ‘Essentials of Rumi’ before her innings, was a flash of positivity and confidence in the match. Her team’s batting was not that perfect falling to 2 for 21 by the eight over, but her first stand with Harmanpreet Kaur salvaged the inning. For Kaur, it was the longest ODI stretch at the crease. The players hauled India’s score to 153 batting together for 27.3 overs. Kaur knocked 60 off 90 balls before Leigh Kasperek delivered that caught and bowled action.
India lost the next wicket in the next over when Rachel Priest flexed her muscle for a stunning catch. Deepti Sharma fell for a duck. India’s inning was slow, but it became steady again with Veda Krishnamurthy. Raj and Veda forged a partnership of 108 runs in 13 overs. India gained momentum by the last 10 overs. Veda scored 70 off 45 balls, with an ending blitz to India’s total. The players fell two balls apart in the final over.
New Zealand might have put up a stronger stand if they had not let pressure impact their batting. Suzie Bates, the opener, was down in 1.1 overs, Rachel Priest was gone by 2.6 and with Katey Martin returning to pavilion, the chase slogged at 3 for 27 by the 11th over. The only palpable partnerships in the chase were of 24 and 20 runs, quite far from being enough. Eight players went down with single digit or no scores, while Amy Satterthwaite’s 26 came up as the highest. All New Zealand could achieve in the chase was to scratch out 79 runs. India bowlers were awkwardly impressive. There was only a single extra in 25.3 overs, as they exhausted 10 players.
This match between India and New Zealand has put a new mark on India’s Women Team. If bowling is compared with the Men’s team, the Women team simply excelled. Women cricket is getting competitive after each match, this World Cup season. India will tussle Australia in the semi-final fixture.
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