New Zealand Women 155 for 5 (Bates 36, Devine 31, Tahuhu 27, Vastrakar 2-16, Deepti 2-26) beat India Women 137 for 8 (Meghana 37, Bhatia 26, Amelia 2-25) by 18 runs
India Women lost five wickets, and the plot, for 35 runs in chase of 156 as New Zealand Women emerged victorious in the one-off T20I
by 18 runs in Queenstown on Wednesday. Lea Tahuhu
starred with both bat and ball, hitting a quickfire 27 off 14 balls when New Zealand batted, and then picking up the wicket of the top-scoring S Meghana
in the chase.
Put in to bat, Sophie Devine
, Suzie Bates
and Tahuhu propelled New Zealand to 155 for 5. From 9 without loss in the first three overs, the home side went to 49 – with no wickets lost still – in six overs. Devine was dropped in the second over by Simran Bahadur, and the New Zealand captain went on to hit two fours and two sixes in her 23-ball 31. Devine and Bates stitched together an opening partnership of 60 runs. Bates top-scored with a 34-ball 36 to set the platform for the home side.
India’s four-pronged spin attack then pulled things back with tight bowling. However, Tahuhu’s surprise promotion to No. 5 ahead of Brooke Halliday and Maddy Green worked in favour for New Zealand, as her boundary spree lifted the side. Martin and Green, the latter scoring a quick 26, also biffed a couple of boundaries in the last few overs to take the score past 150.
In a match where New Zealand maintained a run rate of seven almost throughout the innings, Pooja Vastrakar
was the most impressive Indian bowler, accounting for two crucial wickets – first removing Amelia Kerr for 17 and then Tahuhu. Sans senior pacer Shikha Pandey, who was left out of the squad, Vastrakar stood up to the challenge to end with figures of 2 for 16 in her four overs. She stuck to her stump-to-stump line that fetched her 17 dot balls. Spin-bowling allrounder Deepti Sharma
also scalped two, removing Devine and Green.
India started the chase cautiously in the absence of senior batter Smriti Mandhana
, who was still in the
New Zealand government’s compulsory Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) facility, along with Meghana Singh and Renuka Singh. In Mandhana’s absence, Yastika Bhatia opened with Shafali Verma as India stuck to a left-right combination. The big-hitting Shafali remained passive during the powerplay, eventually departing for 13 off 14 balls when she failed to clear Green on the deep midwicket fence off Amelia Kerr
. In the same over, Amelia dismissed Bhatia, who scored a run-a-ball 26, to trigger a collapse.
Had it not been for Meghana, India would have ended with a lesser total. In her first international game in six years, Meghana looked at home, notching up 37 runs off 30 balls. The knock included some eye-pleasing lofted cover drives. However, with no support from the other end and with the New Zealand bowlers chipping in regularly, the visiting side failed to get past the finish line.
India captain Harmanpreet Kaur, who had scored a total of 121 runs in six matches in 2021, was bowled for a 13-ball 12 when she missed an inswinger that hit the stumps, from pacer Jess Kerr. Hayley Jensen’s double strike in the 19th over meant India ended with 137 for 8.
The two teams now head into a five-match ODI series in the lead-up to the Women’s World Cup, beginning next month.
Srinidhi Ramanujam is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo