Review | New Zealand vs India | 5th ODI | Smriti-Harman-Mithali trio powered through a morale-boosting victory ahead of the World Cup
Written By: Ritwika Dhar
Picture Courtesy: Getty Images
This was the last match to tighten up their screws for both the teams before heading into the World Cup. On one hand where New Zealand were eyeing for the whitewash, India on the other hand were desperate to gain the winning momentum ahead of the big event.
Sophie Devine won the toss and opted to bat first. They had only one change in the XI, Fran Jonas came in for Jess Kerr. New Zealand went ahead with their 3 front-line spinners. Whereas, India again had plenty of changes in the playing XI. Harmanpreet Kaur came in for Yastika Bhatia, Poonam Yadav for Pooja Vastrakar and Jhulan Goswami for Renuka Singh Thakur.
Spinners finally were able to spun the web in the middle overs
New Zealand batters have showcased top-notch batting performance throughout the series. One of the refreshing moves that Kiwis have made in this series is to send Devine as an opener to make the full use of the powerplay. India had this challenge on their hands to restrict the smash sisters.
Jhulan, and Meghna who went for 45 runs in 4 overs in the previous match, took control of the openers. They almost dried up the boundaries. And in the 6th over Meghna gave the breakthrough by trapping Suzie Bates for LBW.
The highest run-scorer of the series so far, Amelia Kerr, joined her captain in the middle, and again, she started to weave a big partnership. They took on Gayakwad’s flighted deliveries and dispatched them over the fence. She went on for 23 runs in her 1st two overs. But it was Sneh Rana amongst Indian spinners who looked the sharpest yesterday. She finally got the reward for her tight bowling as she plucked the wicket of Divine to end the 68-run partnership. But the real threat, Amelia Kerr was still there. She went on to score back-to-back half-centuries. Finally, Deepti Sharma took both the crucial wickets of Satterthwaite and dangerous looking Kerr (66 off 75).
Later on, all the spinners joined the wickets party. Poonam took the wicket of Martin, whereas Rana was the one who caught the big fish. After getting struck with a six, she took the revenge by taking down Lauren. Gayakwad too finished off her 2nd spell well with 2 wickets after her nightmarish 1st two overs, including the wicket of Jensen who was striking well. India restricted New Zealand on a below-par score of 251-9 in 50 overs on a good batting deck.
The bowling came up really well because of the well-supported fielding from the Indian fielders yesterday. It was the best fielding effort from the Indian side so far in this series, with very few errors and they hardly dropped any catches. Spinners did well on the batting surface. But again, India underutilized their pacers as only 12 overs both the pacers bowled out of the 50 overs. They didn’t complete the quota of Goswami where she bowled 7 overs and remained wicketless. Whereas Meghna who gave the 1st breakthrough of the day didn’t bring back for her 2nd spell after bowling 5 overs in the powerplay.
But later in the Kiwi bowling too, we have seen that, despite having a host of good pacers, they relied on the spin-attack as they bowled 28 of the 46 overs.
It seems for India that this is the winning bowling combination they will go forward with in the World Cup. Dropping Yastika opens up the 6th bowling option for the team. With today’s performance, Sneh Rana almost cemented her spot in the XI, and on a greener surface, all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar might come into play in place of Poonam Yadav.
Harmanpreet Kaur came back to her no. 4 position and came back in form
India had an ideal run-chase in their hands to gain some confidence before the World Cup. The opening pair of Smriti and Shafali walked into bat. But India lost their first wicket early in Shafali. On Jensen’s bowling, Lauren Down took a fantastic catch at backward point. But in that process, she injured herself.
It was expected that in the absence of Yastika, skipper Raj might come out to bat at no. 3, but interestingly, India promoted Deepti Sharma to that position. With her batting style, the position was apt for her and she has had some success in batting at no.3 in the past. But she couldn’t pounce on this chance and threw her wicket to Jonas on 21 (41). India again came up with another surprising promotion of Harmanpreet at no. 4. But this was a good move from the Indian management as Harmanpreet has the best records batting at 4. She has the most number of centuries as a no. 4 batter (3) in the Women’s ODIs including the famous 171*. Smriti Mandhana on the other end, was steering the innings strongly. Meanwhile, New Zealand failed to take 3 crucial chances on the field to dismiss Kaur once and Mandhana twice. New Zealand’s spin-bowling was quite good to keep them in the game, but it was the fielding that let them down.
Both Mandhana and Kaur didn’t look back from there and went on to score big half-centuries. Mandhana completed her 22nd 50 of her ODI career before getting out on 71 off 84. Raj came to bat next at no. 5 with Kaur who was settled on the crease. Both of them took the innings further and put up a big partnership of 72 runs. After having a lean patch of only one 50+ score in the last two years, Kaur finally reached her half-century. She was dismissed in the 43rd over by Rowe. But her brilliant 63 off 66 almost ensured the victory of India. It was also her highest score in the ODIs after the famous 171* in 2017. So, it was a much-reliving knock for both her and her team and couldn’t have come at a better time than on the verge of the commencement of the World Cup.
Mithali Raj on the other end, scored yet another fifty (57* off 66) and sealed the victory for team India by 6 wickets. In the whole series, India flexed some serious batting muscles in this series. 7 different batters have scored fifties in this series. Indian opener Shafali, Smriti, back-up opener S. Meghana scored fifties. Whereas keeper-batter Richa scored 2 sensational half-centuries in this series as well. Skipper Mithali as usual scored the pile of runs and remained 2nd highest run-scorer with 235 runs consisting three fifties. In this match, she scored 50th half-century as a captain but the biggest takeaway from this match has to be her deputy’s coming back in form. Indian top order bats made three 50+ partnerships which was one of the positive aspects of the Indian batting in the last game.
Mandhana was adjudged as the Player of the Match for her blistering knock of 71 off 84. Amelia Kerr won the Player of the series for her all-round performance of 353 runs, 7 wickets and a record-breaking 9 catches in these 5 matches.
New Zealand – 251/9 (50) A. Kerr 66 (75), S. Devine 34 (41); D. Sharma 2/42 (10), S. Rana 2/40 (9)
India – 255/4 (46) S. Mandhana 71 (84), H. Kaur 63 (66); H. Rowe 1/41 (9), F. Jonas 1/40 (8)