Deepti Sharma’s 4 for 52 helped India stay alive in the chase till the end, but wasn’t enough for them to level the series
New Zealand 273 for 7 (Amelia 119*, Green 52, Deepti 4-52) beat India 270 for 6 (Raj 66*, Ghosh 65, Meghana 49) by three wickets
On Tuesday, New Zealand were led by Satterthwaite instead of Devine as “contingency planning” for the Women’s World Cup, scheduled for March. Devine, who opened the batting after she was pushed down to the middle order in the first ODI, was out for a 30-ball 33 after Bates was dismissed for 16.
Amelia and Green shared a 128-run stand for the fourth wicket and brought back New Zealand’s momentum as both the batters kept the scorecard ticking by rotating the strike well. Green, who opened the batting in the first ODI, came in at No. 5 and scored at a strike rate of 85.24 en route to her third ODI half-century to make sure New Zealand didn’t fall behind in the required run rate.
Despite New Zealand losing wickets at the other end, the 21-year-old Amelia, who returned to international cricket after a gap of 10 months when she prioritised mental health over the sport, stayed calm till the end to steer the team home. Her 135-ball knock consisted of seven fours and a lot of running as she converted singles into twos and two into threes.
Soon after Green’s departure, two quick wickets gave India a glimmer of hope when Harmanpreet Kaur dismissed Brooke Halliday for 13 in the 37th over and New Zealand needed 71 off 78 balls with five wickets in hand. The equation then became 32 runs off 30 when Deepti bowled keeper Katey Martin for 20. In her next and final over, Deepti bowled Hayley Jensen – in the 48th over – to leave New Zealand at 253 for 7. By then, Amelia had reached three figures – her second in ODIs – and was then joined by her sister Jess.
With 14 needed off 12, the Kerr sisters finished things off with Jess hitting the winning runs with a boundary.
India missed their senior pacer Jhulan Goswami – Simran Dil Bahadur was handed a debut – and found it hard to break the Amelia-Green stand, which eventually cost them the match. Spinners Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Poonam Yadav were effective in containing the runs, but with pacers Pooja Vastrakar toiling for wickets, India felt the absence of experienced Goswami.
Earlier, India rode on the fifties of captain Mithali Raj and Richa Ghosh to post their highest total against New Zealand in the ODIs. It was also the second instance of them crossing 270 since February 2018.
Opting to bat first, the team started on a brisk note despite their star opener Smriti Mandhana missing the third game of the series due to quarantine. Shafali Verma and S Meghana put on a solid 61-run opening stand which set the platform for the other batters. Verma made a 38-ball 24 while Meghana hit an impressive 50-ball 49.
Verma was helped by two dropped chances, on 1 and 22 in the second and eleventh over respectively, but her innings came to an end in the 12th over when she was caught at mid-off by Satterthwaite off a Rosemary Mair delivery.
Meghana, who mixed aggression with caution, has been one of the positives for India ahead of the ODI World Cup as she continued to be among runs. In Mandhana’s absence, the Andhra batter hit a flurry of boundaries, which included a hat-trick of fours in the sixth over, and also shared a 49-run stand with Yastika Bhatia, who hit 31 off 38. Meghana departed soon after Bhatia when she spooned a catch to Amelia.
The visitors then witnessed a mini-collapse, losing three wickets for 25, before Raj and Richa Ghosh rebuilt the innings. Raj anchored the innings with an unbeaten 66 and Ghosh, being the aggressor, notched up her maiden international fifty – en route to becoming the youngest India wicketkeeper to score a half-century in women’s ODIs.
Though Ghosh injured her right ankle during the first innings and did not take the gloves later, she kept the scoreboard pressure off Raj by finding boundaries regularly with ease. The duo shared a crucial 108-run partnership for the sixth wicket that lifted India to 250-mark. While Raj brought up her 60th ODI fifty – her seventh fifty-plus score in her last 10 ODIs – Ghosh made a 64-ball 65 that contained six fours and a six.
India were also benefited by New Zealand’s sloppy fielding where they dropped several chances, however, it didn’t matter as they made it up in the chase.
Srinidhi Ramanujam is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo