Cricket

Harmanpreet cuts loose as India wallop New Zealand


WOMEN’S WORLD T20, 2018

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Kaur reached her century off just 49 balls. © Getty

The Women’s World T20 2018 in the Caribbean got off to the most entertaining start as Harmanpreet Kaur, the India captain, smashed the country’s first ever hundred in T20Is, and laid the foundation for India’s win over New Zealand.

It was a day for firsts in Guyana. This was the first ever instance of a world women’s event happening independently, and the India captain ensured it got maximum eyeballs with a hundred for the ages. Harman smashed eight sixes and seven fours during her onslaught getting to her hundred in just 49 balls – the third fastest.

It was the first ever hundred for India Women in T20Is, but it was thanks to a platform laid by Jemimah Rodrigues, who was playing her first ever game in a world event. The youngster walked in at the fall of Taniya Bhatia’s wicket in the second over, and then saw Smriti Mandhana and Dayalan Hemalatha depart not long after. India were 40/3 when Rodrigues was joined by her skipper. She ensured her captain played herself in by scoring freely from the other end. Kaur got to only five in her first 13 deliveries, but it didn’t cause too much trouble considering Rodrigues’s scoring at the other end.

Kaur then cut loose. At the halfway stage in the innings, she smashed a Jess Watkin full toss for the first six of the tournament, and added another two balls later. With the captain finding her groove, India’s scoring skyrocketed. They reached their hundred in the 14th over, and Kaur immediately smashed another big six as India set sights on a competitive total.

Sixes started flowing off Kaur’s bat, as Rodrigues settled into turning the strike over to her captain. Kaur preferred the leg side, hitting mostly into the wind, but was also severe when the ball was pitched up. Kaur brought up her fifty off 33 balls, scoring 45 off just 20 balls. But she was only warming up.

Rodrigues fell after making 50 off 40 balls, while Kaur reached the three-figure mark off her 49th delivery as India ended with 194/5. It was the highest score in WWT20.

New Zealand’s big-hitting batting order needed to strike big from ball 1, and Suzie Bates set the tone by doing exactly that. India, however, had another first waiting to make her mark. Hemalatha, making her T20I debut, put India in complete control with her left-arm orthodox. She accounted for Anna Peterson, Amy Satterthwaite and Maddy Green, while also taking the catch to get rid of Bates. Poonam Yadav was another bowling star for India, taking three wickets for 33.

Bates was the one player who stood in India’s way of a fairytale start. The right-hander would constantly move away to the off side against India’s spinners to swat them away to the leg side. The former NZ captain scored 67 off 50 balls, but with the rest of the batting order failing, her task kept getting harder.

With her wicket, New Zealand’s hopes evaporated. Katey Martin, however, ensured New Zealand reduced the margin of defeat with some big hits. They eventually ended with 160/9, giving India full points and a decent NRR in return.

In a day of firsts, the last one will be the most pleasing for Harmanpreet Kaur’s side. They have beaten New Zealand in a World T20 game for the first time. And that will mean everything.

Brief Scores: India 194/5 (Harmanpreet Kaur 103, Jemimah Rodrigues 59, Lea Tahuhu 2-18) beat New Zealand 160/9 (Suzie Bates 67, Katey Martin 39, Dayalan Hemalatha 3-26, Poonam Yadav 3-33) by 34 runs.

© Cricbuzz

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