New Zealand pull off yet another chase to seal the series with two matches to spare
The trio of Amy Satterthwaite, Amelia Kerr and Lauren Down helped New Zealand pull off yet another record chase as they sealed the five-match ODI series with a three wicket win over India in a thriller at John Davies Oval in Queenstown on Friday (February 18).
Put into bat, India got off to a whirlwind start with openers S Meghana and Shafali Verma going after the bowlers straight away. Meghana drove the first ball of the innings through covers before getting another one through fine-leg with Lea Tahuhu drifting on to the pads. She cover drove Hannah Rowe as well in the next over.
At the other end, Verma joined her in the fun with a couple of boundaries but it was the fourth over that revealed India’s intentions and Meghana’s range. She lofted Rowe over cover for a boundary and then followed it up with a six over wide long-off. The visitors had their 50 up in the seventh over and Meghana didn’t give New Zealand bowlers any respite as she launched Sophie Devine over long-on for another six.
Although she was dropped off Devine, Meghana hit the New Zealand skipper for four boundaries in the tenth over as she brought up her fifty from just 33 balls. India ended the power play with 86 runs on the board.
However, Rosemary Mair finally struck just after India went past the 100-run mark to remove Meghana for 61. Dismissal of her partner didn’t deter Verma and she punished Kerr for a couple of fours. The 18-year-old reached her second ODI fifty from 54 balls, but once again New Zealand came back into the game when Verma fell to Kerr.
India soon lost Yastika Bhatia as well with the southpaw falling to a pull for the third time in the ODI series. From 147 for three, they needed Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur to guide them to a dominant total. But in a combined act of freakish occurrence and game awareness, Frances Mackay caught Kaur unawares when the allrounder hit it straight back to the bowler and made strides down the ground. Mackay fielded and throw the ball back in one swift motion and Katey Martin completed the run out as Kaur found herself short of the crease.
From there, Rowe snared Raj with an away going one for 23 off 33 balls to leave India at 187 for five in the 33rd over. Then it was all down to Deepti Sharma even as wickets fell from the other end. The left-hander consistently employed sweep to good effect and finally made her 11th fifty in the format – her first since the last tour of New Zealand in 2019 – to make sure India almost batted out the full quota overs.
For New Zealand, Mackay affected another smart run out in the similar vein to that of Kaur and also picked up the final wicket as India were bowled out for 279 in 49.3 overs. Sharma remained unbeaten on 69 off 69 balls to top-score for the visitors.
In the chase, New Zealand found themselves in early trouble with Jhulan Goswami bringing her experience to the fore. She took both the openers out with deliveries that came back to them. Devine was trapped in front with a nip backer, while Suzie Bates played all around another one, only to hear the clattering of the stumps.
The veteran pacer was in her elements and almost had Satterthwaite as well, but Sharma dropped her on zero at gully. Satterthwaite, in the company of in-form Kerr, hit a few boundaries to make sure that New Zealand kept up with the required run rate. The duo punished Renuka Singh Thakur, on her debut, whenever she erred on line and length.
New Zealand looked comfortable as Satterthwaite brought up her 26th fifty in ODIs in the 19th over. At this stage, India once again turned to Goswami and she delivered with the wicket of Satterthwaite with the score reading 117 for three in 24 overs. Dismissal of the southpaw didn’t bother Kerr as she continued from where she left in the second game.
The 21-year-old pulled out her various sweeps, cut and drove the bowlers on her way to her third fifty to go with the two hundreds she already has in the format. However, against the run of play, Kerr took on Sneh Rana and was caught on the boundary by Thakur for 67.
That was the breakthrough India needed and from there, New Zealand lost a couple of quick wickets from there to be reduced to 171 for six in the 35th over. Lauren Down and Martin brought New Zealand back to the game with some swift running and inventive shot making. Down took on Sharma and hit the off-spinner for a couple of boundaries before driving Thakur for another boundary. The pair added 76 runs for the seventh wicket and looked like they will take New Zealand home without any further trouble.
However, Sharma broke the partnership as she had Martin caught behind in the 46th over. New Zealand needed 32 runs from the last four overs from there with Down still at the crease. Nine runs came in the next over as Down became the sixth player to score a fifty in the match. With the hosts needing 18 off the last two overs, Down and Mackay added 13 runs of the penultimate over to reduce the target to six in the final over. They finished it off in style as Down hit a six down the ground.
Brief Scores: India 279/10 in 49.3 overs (Deepti Sharma 69*, S Meghana 61; Rosemary Mair 2/43) lost to New Zealand 280/7 in 49.1 overs (Amelia Kerr 67; Jhulan Goswami 3/47) by three wickets. POTM: Lauren Down