In the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017, India took on New Zealand on Saturday in the last round robin game for either team before the knockout stages commence. The two teams squared off in Derby in what was a direct shootout for a semi-final spot.
Kiwi skipper Suzie Bates won the toss and put the Mithali Raj-led Indian side into bat. New Zealand’s fast bowling pair of Lea Tahuhu and Hannah Rowe were effective early on and removed the Indian opening pair of Punam Raut and Smriti Mandhana cheaply leaving the Indians tottering at 21-2.
Skipper Mithali Raj then got together with Harmanpreet Kaur to steady the ship as the two put on 132 runs for the third wicket before Kaur, after scoring 60, chipped an easy return catch to spinner Leigh Kasperek.
Deepti Sharma was next to go but Raj got together with Veda Krishnamurthy and took the attack to the Kiwi bowlers as the duo put on a quickfire 108-run partnership for the fifth wicket to push India’s total to over 250.
In the process, Raj completed her sixth ODI century before being eventually dismissed for a masterful 109 while Krishnamurthy’s boundary-laden 70 off just 45 deliveries ensured that India set New Zealand a tough target of 266 runs.
In reply, the Kiwis got off to the worst possible start losing Bates and her opening partner Rachel Priest within the first three overs. Pacer Shikha Pandey had Bates edging to wide slip while Jhulan Goswami took a brilliant return catch to dismiss Priest.
From then on, it was an uphill battle for the New Zealand batting line-up and they never got going as they folded without a fight.
Left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad was the destructor-in-chief for the Indian team picking up a fifer in her first match of this tournament.
Gayakwad had been warming the bench for the previous six matches but when the call came in a crunch match, she delivered with aplomb finishing with career-best bowling figures of 5-15.
New Zealand were eventually bundled out for a paltry 79 runs, falling short of the target by a mammoth 186 runs handing the Indian women their first semi-final berth at a major ICC event since 2010.
The Indian team have now won all the four games they have played at Derby and the fact that their semi-final against Australia takes place at the same ground augurs well for them.