Smriti Mandhana after hitting a century. ©Getty Images

Smriti Mandhana’s unbeaten 90 and her unbroken stand of 155 with Mithali Raj (63 not out) helped India complete the formalitlies of an eight-wicket win over New Zealand in the second One-Day International at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui on Tuesday (January 29).

Jhulan Goswami’s 3 for 23 and another effective display by the spinners had bowled out New Zealand for 161 in 44.2 overs. India took just 35.2 overs to reach the target. The win took India’s tally on the ICC Women’s Championship table to 12 points, putting them in joint-second spot alongside New Zealand.

On a slow pitch where strokemkaing was difficult, Goswami struck in the very first over when she had Suzie Bates caught behind with a back of the length delivery before she had opened her account. Soon after that Shikha Pandey trapped Sophie Devine, the other opener, in front of the wicket as New Zealand became 8 for 2.

Amy Satterthwaite, the captain, came to the centre in the 12th over, but saw the departure of two more quick wickets. It fell upon her to reconstruct the innings with stands of 24 with Maddy Green and 58 with Leigh Kasperek. The responsibility was hers to ensure that the spinners did not continue to dominate and the strike kept being rotated, but that was not as she fell to a fine edge against the bowling of Poonam Yadav. Taniya Bhatia took a sharp catch behind the stumps, ending Satterthwaite’s innings on 71 off 87 balls.

It was her first half-century against India and she would have liked to convert it into a big one. As soon as she fell in the 34th over, there was a procession of wickets. Goswami yorked Kasperek to castle her stumps, and then Deepti Sharma picked up two wickets in one over. Goswami finished the innings by bowling out Lea Tahuhu. The Indian legend has now not gone wicketless for 18 consecutive years.

Apart from Deepti, Ekta Bisht and Poonam also picked up two wickets each. It was the second time in as many matches that New Zealand were unable to play out their full quota of overs.

With a seemingly small total to defend, Jacob Oram, the New Zealand bowling coach, said on air that “the plan is to attack and bowl full and straight.” It fetched them the wickets of Jemimah Rodrigues and Deepti as India became 15 for 2.

The onus was then on New Zealand to continue applying pressure on the formidable pair of Mandhana and Mithali, but they were unable to do so. Mithali took time to get in, consuming a lot of deliveries in the initial part of her stay at the centre. But it did not matter much as Mandhana capitalised on the bad balls to keep the required run-rate within check always. Her glorious drives were as beautiful to watch as were her pull shots. Mithali too opened up as her feet started moving, and finished the game with a six to long-on.

It was the duo’s second consecutive century stand in ODIs. “I always enjoy batting in challenging condition. It was a slow wicket. It was not going to be easy. It requires patience and Smriti is in good form and one has to give support on the other end,” said Mithali, who was batting in New Zealand for the first time since 2006, at the post-match presentation ceremony.

Fully realising that her eighth fifty-plus score in the last ten innings was just the topping on the work done by the bowling, Mandhana, who had scored a century in the first game, dedicated her Player of the Match award to the bowlers. “I would like to give this award goes to all the bowlers. As they did a great job to restrict them to 160 on a good wicket like that.”

Satterthwaite said that her team “needs to get a partnership with bat and bowl” in order to make a difference in the third ODI, which is on February 1.