The 2018 T20 World Cup in West Indies was off to a rollicking start with Harmanpreet Kaur becoming the first Indian woman to score a hundred in T20 Internationals for India. Every Indian fan knew what the Indian captain was capable off after her World Cup semi-final knock of 171 against Australia. To pull off a maiden hundred in the first match of the World Cup has heightened the expectations of the entire nation sky high.
The opening match of the World T20 saw World number five India taking on a mighty New Zealand team ranked second. The likes of Suzie Bates, Sophie Devine, and Leigh Kasperek can send shock waves to any opposing team. The young Indian squad comprises of Harmanpreet Kaur, Mithali Raj, Jemimah Rodrigues, Poonam Yadav and Anuja Patil who have established themselves in the top ten charts of the ICC’s T20 rankings.
India won the toss and promptly elected to bat. They sprang an early surprise by opening with Bhatia instead of the experienced Mithali Raj. After impressing with two boundaries from Watkins, Tahuhu cleaned up Bhatia with an inswinger. Rodrigues stepped in and made an initial impression unleashing a spectacular cover-drive to get off the mark.
Mandhana pulled Tahuhu in the fourth over, but Jensen plucked out an amazing catch at the square-leg fence to force her back to the stands. When everyone expected the Indian captain to walk in, the side took everyone by surprise as Hemalatha strolled in at number four. Hemalatha started brilliantly with a brace of boundaries before succumbing to a soft dismissal off Kasperek.
The Indian captain walked in with the team in dire straits losing three wickets for 40 runs with 13 overs remaining. Kaur scored five from 13 deliveries when she stepped out to lodge a full-toss from Watkin out of the park followed by another over long-off. That set the ball rolling for Kaur as she found her Midas touch and powered her way ahead of Rodrigues to complete the half-century in 33 balls.
She unleashed eight sixes in total before clipping a couple off her pads to complete a well deserved century. She struck the next 50 runs off 16 balls to deliver a strong signal to the White Ferns. Jemimah Rodrigues as played her role to perfection as she got her first 50 of the World T20. Both the batters put on a brilliant 134-run partnership, the highest for any wicket for India in T20Is.
Rodrigues fell for 59 after being stumped off Kasperek. Harmanpreet finally fell, caught behind to Devine for 103 and got congratulated by the entire New Zealand team before she left the field.
New Zealand chasing 195 for a historic victory started brightly with Suzie Bates powering her way past the Indian bowlers manufacturing shots behind square off the spin bowlers. They raced off to 51 runs at the end of the power-play before debutant Hemalatha struck getting Peterson caught behind for 14.
Devine walked in and hit an excellent swivel shot down the square-leg before skying a ball to cover into the safe hands of Kaur off Yadav’s bowling. Watkin did not trouble the scorers after getting stumped off her first ball.
Bates went past Charlotte Edwards to become the leading run scorer in T20Is after reaching her half-century. India though was tightening the screws at the other end, getting Satterthwaite caught off Hemalatha’s bowling and the final nail in the coffin came when Bates sliced a ball straight to point for 67 of Arundhati Reddy’s bowling.
Deepti Sharma pulled off a sensational diving catch at long-on to dismiss Maddy Green. Martin walked in at 93 for 4 and ensured respectability to the New Zealand scoreboard with a brilliant quick-fire 39 of 24 balls before falling to Yadav.
Deepti Sharma pulled off another spectacular catch to dismiss Kasperek while, Radha Yadav picked her second wicket dismissing Jensen after some quick work behind the stumps by Bhatia. India wrapped up the match to win by 34 runs after the White Ferns ended up with 160 from their allotted 20 overs.
India plays Pakistan in their next encounter on November 11, 2018, at the Guyana National Stadium in Providence.Published 11 Nov 2018, 15:00 IST