New Zealand’s chase of 271 started with the familiar opening pair of Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine. In the absence of Jhulan Goswami, Pooja Vastrakar got the opportunity to open the bowling with Rajeshwari Gayakwad’s spin from the other end. Bates and Devine got off to a rapid start, scoring 30 runs off first four overs. Raj introduced the off-spin of Deepti Sharma in the fifth over and India immediately struck gold with the wicket of Bates.
Amelia joined Devine when New Zealand were 35 for one. Shortly after that, the hosts lost Devine and Amy Satterthwaite inside the powerplay. With all the big guns back in the hut at 55 for three, Amelia and Maddy Green needed to have a massive partnership. The pair consolidated against the relatively inexperienced Indian bowling unit. India made it difficult with their improved fielding as there were no clear winners midway through the chase.
India tried six bowling options in the search of a wicket but the Kerr and Green partnership kept going. Amelia was the first to bring up her fifty, followed by Green, who scored her third ODI fifty off 57 balls. Poonam Yadav broke the record partnership of 128 runs to keep India in the contest. Yastika Bhatia took a simple catch to send Green packing on 52 when New Zealand needed 88 runs off 99 balls.
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A short cameo from left-hander Brooke Halliday and a frustrating innings from Katey Martin kept Kerr stranded at the other end. With the required rate climbing up, she swept Sharma to secure her second ODI century. Shortly after that, she lost Hayley Jensen as New Zealand needed 18 runs off 15 balls. India missed a couple of run-out chances late in the innings. Amelia was joined by her sister Jess in the middle as the pair took New Zealand home with one over remaining and three wickets in hand.
Earlier, New Zealand handed Satterthwaite captaincy duties for the day as “contingency plans” came into play. Her counterpart Raj won the toss and opted to bat first. India also made some changes to their playing XI. Goswami was rested for the day while Simran Dil Bahadur made her ODI debut.
Shafali Verma and S Meghana continued to open for India in the absence of regular opener Smriti Mandhana. New Zealand dropped their first big chance of the day in the second over when Green dropped Verma in the slips. After a nervy start, the opening pair clobbered 22 runs from Jess Kerr’s third over. Meghana hit three back-to-back fours in that over, stylishly going past mid-off twice.
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The hosts were a little sloppy in the field and got punished by the Indian pair as they brought up the 50-run partnership in the 9th over. A regulation catch by stand-in skipper Satterthwaite finally handed New Zealand their first breakthrough. Yastika Bhatia, at three, continued on the foundation built by the openers. She shared an aggressive partnership of 49 runs with Meghana before mistiming a pull shot. Bates then took a simple catch which led to a mini-collapse.
India lost three wickets for 25 runs, including the crucial wicket of Meghana, who was caught and bowled by Amelia just short of her maiden ODI half-century. Richa Ghosh walked in at six when India were 135 for four. After settling down, the 18-year old took charge of the innings, with her skipper playing the anchor role. She brought her maiden ODI fifty off 49 balls to take India past 200. A fantastic display of running between the wickets and selective risk-taking were the highlights of the century stand between Ghosh and Raj.
Raj continued her form with the bat by hitting her 68th 50+ score in ODIs. Immediately after that, Ghosh’s fine innings came to an end with Amelia taking a simple catch on the deep mid-wicket boundary. India added 27 runs in the final four overs to take their total to 270, their highest total in the format against New Zealand.
India: 270/6 in 50 overs (Mithali Raj 66*, Richa Ghosh 65; Sophie Devine 2/42) lost to New Zealand: 273/7 in 49 overs (Amelia Ker 119*, Maddy Green 52; Deepti Sharma 4/52) by three wickets