Mithali Raj’s scintillating century followed by a dominating bowling display led by Rajeshwari Gayakwad helped the Indian eves hammer their New Zealand counterparts to book a place in the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup.
Batting first, the Indians didn’t get off to the best of starts as they lost Smriti Mandhana (13) and the centurion from last match Punam Raut (4) with just 21 runs on the board. But a solid 132 run- partnership between skipper Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur (60) brought back India to the game. Harmanpreet’s knock was studded with seven fours as the stylish right-hander supported her captain and ensured that a decent total was put on the board for the bowlers to defend.
However after she and wicketkeeper batswoman Sushma Verma were dismissed in quick time, Veda Krishnamurthy came out with an aggressive intent as he whacked her way to a fifty of just 34 balls. This allowed Mithali to play calmly at the other end as she went on to notch her way to her sixth ODI century and her first in this year’s World Cup. Her brilliant performance with the bat continued as he also scored her 10th fifty plus score this year, another record in women’s cricket.
India ended on a solid 265/7, a defendable total. However, when the New Zealand batswomen were expected to put up a fight as this was a must-win contest, they crumbled under pressure and made a mess of the run chase. The Indian bowlers bowled brilliantly and never let the opposition break free and make a comeback.
Eventually they were bundled out for a meagre 79 runs courtesy a fine five wicket haul by Rajeshwari Gayakwad. For New Zealand, Amy Satterthwaite top scored with 26 runs.
India thus move into the semi-finals of the marquee tournament in women’s cricket and they are most likely to face Australia at the same venue in a bid to book a place in the finals.