New Zealand down India in rain-marred ODI, lead 4-0

Amelia Kerr © Getty Images

Riding on the back of a scintillating all-round performance from Amelia Kerr, New Zealand defeated India by 63 runs in a rain-marred fourth ODI at the John Davies Oval in Queenstown on Tuesday (February 22).

Chasing a daunting total of 192 runs to win in the 20 over contest, India were jolted early as Shafali Verma hit a half-tracker from Frances Mackay straight down the throat of Suzie Bates at mid-wicket. Before India could even recover from such a massive blow, Jess Kerr got the better of Yastika Bhatia, who yet again couldn’t manage to execute the pull shot efficiently.

India promoted Pooja Vastrakar at number four to up the ante but she too could not bother the scorers much and fell cheaply for just four runs. But it was Hayley Jensen who got the prized scalp of Smriti Mandhana and pegged India further back as the southpaw holed out to deep midwicket while playing a full-blooded pull shot.

Wicketkeeper-batter Richa Ghosh tried to break the shackles and played an amazing knock of 52 runs off 29 balls – the fastest recordest fifty in ODIs for India – to bring the visitors back into the run chase but it wasn’t enough as the asking rate kept mounting with every over.

After her dismissal, it was almost game over for the tourists as the total looked well beyond their reach. Hayley Jensen bowled exceedingly well for the White Ferns as she bagged a three-wicket haul and operated in tandem with Jess to strangle the Indian batters.

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Earlier in the day, Mithali Raj won the toss and elected to bowl first on a wicket that had a bit of green tinge on it and a fair amount of moisture to keep the pacers interested.

India made six changes to their playing XI from the previous game in an attempt to provide enough game time to everyone, with the most notable one being the inclusion of opener Smriti Mandhana, who missed out during the earlier stages of the series due to Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ).

As surprising as it turned out to be, India decided to exclude middle-order batter and vice captain Harmanpreet Kaur after her inability to churn out runs in the series.

The White Ferns got off to an impressive start as skipper Sophie Devine meant business from the word go and cover drove her second delivery for an exquisite boundary. The duo of Devine and Suzie Bates added 53 runs for the opening wicket. Devine attacked pacer Meghna Singh who got some movement early but could not utilise it to her advantage as she was wayward.

Singh’s fellow pacer Renuka Singh Thakur operated in some good areas due to which the White Ferns could only manage 30 runs in the first four overs. Thakur reaped the rewards for her disciplined bowling performance as she dismissed Devine before she could pile on the pain for India as Mandhana pulled off an absolute blinder at point to send Devine packing.

India’s fielding looked pretty ordinary again and allowed New Zealand to dictate terms to them. Both Bates (41 runs off 26 balls) and Amy Satterthwaite (32 runs off 16 balls) looked in their elements and took the attack to the Indian bowlers and made them look toothless.

India were constantly under the pump as the New Zealand batters never took their feet off the pedal and kept hammering them to all parts of the park. Amelia, who is going through a purple patch at the moment, rose to the occasion yet again and stamped her authority on the game. She used her feet beautifully against the Indian spinners and unleashed a wide range of sweep shots to neutralise them.

Amelia scored a magnificent half-century, scoring 68* runs off just 33 balls and provided the side with the final flourish they needed. She scored at an outstanding strike rate of 206.06 and propelled the White Ferns to a match-winning total of 191 runs.

Brief Scores: New Zealand 191/5 in 20 overs (Amelia Kerr 68*, Suzie Bates 41;  Renuka Singh 2/33) beat  India 128/10 in 17.5 overs (Richa Ghosh 52, Mithali Raj 30; Amelia Kerr 3/30) by 63 runs. POTM: Amelia Kerr