Harmanpreet Kaur in action for India. ©ICC

The first standalone event of the ICC women’s world T20 tournament kick-started in grand fashion with a scintillating century from India’s Harmanpreet Kaur against New Zealand. She created history to become the first player from India to score a century in T20Is.

India defeated New Zealand by 34 runs to kick-start their world cup campaign. After having a brilliant day with the bat, the Indian players backed it with the ball and in the field. After scoring a mammoth total of 194, Indian spinners bowled well to restrict the New Zealand batters for 160. Debutant Hemalatha and the in-form Poonam Yadav were the pick of the bowlers who claimed 3 wickets each. For her breath-taking knock, Kaur was adjudged the player of the match.

After winning the toss on a relatively flat and hard track, Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur had no hesitation in batting first. To everyone’s surprise, Taniya Bhatia opened with Smriti Mandhana and she started the Indian innings with a boundary off the first ball of the match.

For New Zealand, Lea Tahuhu created an impact straightway. She dismissed Bhatia with an excellent ball and almost got rid of Jemimah Rodrigues in the same over. On the other end, Mandhana couldn’t get going and got out for a brilliant catch by Hayley Jensen who had timed her jump to perfection at the boundary.

Indian team management  made their intentions clear to be aggressive by sending the debutant Dayalan Hemalatha ahead of Mithali Raj. She hit some quick boundaries before getting caught of the bowling of Leigh Kasperek. Kaur joined Rodrigues and took some time by nudging the ball into the gaps before starting her assault. She hit Jess Watkin for two massive sixes and India’s score at the end of 11th over was 81/3.

What followed in the next 9 overs was truly remarkable. Harmanpreet Kaur went berserk and tore apart New Zealand’s bowling line up. She  hit 103 of 51 balls with 8 massive sixes and 7 boundaries. On the other end, Rodrigues who had taken the pressure off Kaur initially became the youngest Indian player to hit a 50 in a Women’s World T20 match. She scored 59 off 45 balls. Along with Kaur, Rodrigues got involved in a record 134-run partnership, India’s highest in T20Is. In the process, India team scored 194/5 which is the highest-ever total in the history of the women’s world T20.

Chasing a record total of 195,  New Zealand openers started well and scored 51/0 in 6 overs before Indian debutant Hemalatha struck with her 3rd ball to claim her maiden T20I wicket. Soon after that, Poonam Yadav struck twice for India to get rid of dangerous Sophie Divine and Jess Watkin on successive deliveries. On the other end, Suzie Bates who had played a good knock got her 21st fifty in T20Is, which is highest in the format. She also surpassed Charlotte Edwards as the leading run scorer in the ICC World T20 history.

As the required run rate was piling up, Bates perished trying for a big shot after a well made 67 of 50 balls. At the end of 15 overs, New Zealand were 111/6 and the required run rate was piling up and it was all over for New Zealand as the wickets were falling at regular intervals. Though Katey Martin and Leigh Kasperek tried their best, in the end, they succumbed to the scoreboard pressure.

A comprehensive win against a strong side like White Ferns will truly lift the spirits of the Indian dug-out and on the other hand, New Zealand has a lot of work to do with their bowling.