Harmanpreet’s maiden ton powers India to victory in first match

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…Suzie Bates half century in vain

By Brandon Corlette

India crushed New Zealand by 34 runs in the first of the three scheduled matches at the National Stadium Providence, East Bank Demerara, Guyana. The victory was set-up by captain, Harmanpreet Kaur’s superb century, Jemimah Rodrigues’ composed half century and three-wicket hauls from spinners, Dayalan Hemalatha and Poonam Yadav.

In sweltering Guyanese sunshine, the historical Stand-alone ICC Women’s World T20 tournament bowled off at the National Stadium at Providence, Guyana. The matchup between India and New Zealand was a brilliant encounter featuring the likes of Suzie Bates, Harmanpreet Kaur and Mithali Raj.

On a spin-friendly Providence wicket, India opted to bat with opener Taniya Bhatia and Smriti Mandana at the crease. Off-spinner, Jess Watkin was greeted with a boundary off the first delivery as Bhatia played an elegant leg-glance to the fine-leg boundary. Bhatia took nine runs off the first over but was removed in the second over by right arm seamer, Lea Tahuhu. Bhatia was bowled for nine as the ball brushed her front pad and hit the top of off stump. Tahuhu continued her discipline bowling as she removed Mandhana in her second over with the score on 22-2 in the fourth over.  The New Zealand white ferns leaked 41 runs in the power play and managed to pick up three wickets.

However, it was India’s number 3, the Mumbai teenage batting sensation Jemimah Rodrigues and Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur who dominated the New Zealand bowlers. The 18-year-old Rodrigues rotated the strike and hit the bad deliveries to the boundary when she was presented the opportunity. In contrast, Kaur was striking the ball with power and timing as the New Zealand bowlers had no answers of getting the Indian captain’s wicket.

Kaur and Rodrigues put together a 134 run partnership as the latter fell in the 19th over to Watkin for a well composed 59 from 45 deliveries. The Indian captain, Kaur brought up her century off just 49 balls off a Sophie Devine’s half volley. Kaur was removed in the 20th over but she had already led her team to a daunting 194-5 in their allocation of 20 overs. Tahuhu was the pick of the bowlers with 2-18 in three overs. Watkin and Devine grabbed one wicket each.

The New Zealand explosive opening duo of Suzy Bates and Anna Peterson provided a brilliant start to the run chase. The pair added 50 runs in the first six overs. In the seventh over, Peterson (14) was out caught giving debutant Hemalatha her first T20I wicket.  While Suzie Bates continued her destructive batting, she lost three batting partners as she stood at the non-strikers end witnessing her teammates’ demise. The wicket taking Indian leg-spinner, Poonam Yadav was introduced and she grabbed the prize wicket of Devine and she struck again when she bowled Jess Watkin for a golden duck. Captain, Amy Satterthwaite occupied the crease for a brief moment but she was removed for 3 by the debutant, Hemalatha.

Bates continued to play enterprising strokes and she brought up her half-century in 39 balls. During Bates’ record breaking innings, she became the leading run scorer in Women’s T20 Internationals as she amassed 3000 runs. In the 14th over, bowled by opening bowler Arundhati Reddy, who returned for her second spell, removed Bates who scored a responsible 67 from 50 balls, including 8 classy boundaries.

With the required run rate being out of reach at 98-5 in the 14th over, New Zealand Wicket-keeper-batter Katey Martin showed character as she played a fighting knock of 39 from 25 balls, inclusive of 8 timely fours. However, it was too late for the white ferns as the Indian bowlers restricted the target beautifully. Debutant off-spinner Dayalan Hemalatha and Poonam Yadav were the pick of the bowlers with three wickets each.

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