Punam Raut raises her bat after reaching a milestone. ©ICC

Spin to win was India’s mantra as they successfully defended what seemed a below-par total. Poonam Yadav, Deepti Sharma and Rajeshwari Gayakwad all contributed with the ball after Punam Raut struck a half century to help India beat West Indies by 53 runs in the second ODI at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Sunday (November 3) to level the series 1-1.

Two partnerships. That’s what India’s score of 191 for 6 was based on. First a 66-run stand between captain Mithali Raj and Raut brought them on track. And then, Raut was joined by Harmanpreet Kaur – the duo adding 93 runs for the fourth wicket.

Having opted to bat, the tourists got off to a bad start, losing Jemimah Rodrigues for a seven-ball duck. Priya Punia was also soon back to the hut as India were left reeling at 17 for two by the ninth over. Then started the rebuilding phase under Raut and Raj.

While the former struggled to get off strike, the latter managed to keep the scoreboard ticking. Raut particularly found the going tough against Anisa Mohammed’s off-spin and Afy Fletcher’s leg-spin. She could only bunt them down or just miss getting caught at slips.

However, with the base set, Raj then departed for 40, getting a leading edge in an attempted flick. India were three down for just 83 close to the 30-over mark. Raut and Kaur – more the former – played out a few quiet overs, just moving along at a snail’s pace. At the end of 40 overs, the visitors were three down for 126.

Soon enough Raut was dropped on 48, after which she got her 13th ODI fifty. At the other end, Kaur was beginning to change gears, too. The 42nd over, bowled by newbie Aaliyah Alleyne, went for 12 and it seemed that India would get a score above 200. Raut, too, managed to hit a couple of boundaries off the 46th over bowled by Stacy-Ann King.

But Alleyne, who claimed the wicket of Rodrigues as her maiden scalp in ODIs, returned to get rid of Kaur for 46. In the next over, Fletcher sent back Raut, who hit 77 runs in 128 ball. That meant that India ended up losing a bit of fizz towards the end to fall short of the 200-run mark.

Fletcher and Alleyne ended up with two wickets apiece, while Shabika Gajnabi and Sheneta Grimmond picked up one each. Mohammed, who picked up a fifer in the first match and went past the 150-wicket mark, was wicketless.

India began well in their defence of 191. Shikha Pandey moved the ball both ways inconveniencing the West Indies openers, more so Stacy-Ann King. Raut dropped a sitter off Pandey in her very first over, giving King a life. But facing Pandey at the start proved a bit too much for the left-hander. The Indian delivered one that moved back in a touch and castled King for just three.

The introduction of spinners left both Natasha McLean and Shemaine Campbelle searching for runs. The five-over phase from the 11th to 15th over saw three maidens being bowled. And it was in that phase that McLean had to retire hurt after she began to cramp up and had to be stretchered off.

Stafanie Taylor then arrived and it seemed as if she hadn’t stopped batting after the last game. Along with Campbelle she strung a 46-run stand before falling LBW to Poonam Yadav’s leg-spin. That set the collapse meter on and the hosts were never the same again.

From being one for 78, they were reduced to seven for 105 – six wickets for just 27 runs. At the heart of this collapse was Gayakwad, who had replaced Ekta Bisht in the match. Poonam and Deepti too got into the act soon. Once Campbelle fell for a painstaking 90-ball 39, the end was nigh for the hosts.

Gayakwad, Poonam and Deepti all took two wickets each for India, as they restricted West Indies to 138, with McLean not coming to bat later.

Brief Scores: India 191/6 in 50 overs (Punam Raut 77, Harmanpreet Kaur 46; Afy Fletcher 2-32, Aaliyah Alleyne 2-38) beat West Indies 138 in 47.3 overs (Shemaine Campbelle 39; Poonam Yadav 2-26, Deepti Sharma 2-26) by 53 runs.