Opting to bat, West Indies got the right kind of start as the openers, Natasha McLean and Stacy-Ann King, added 51 for the first wicket. Just to put things into perspective, it was the first time the opening wicket for them had crossed the 50-run mark in ODIs since October 2016.
McLean did the lion’s share of scoring, eventually bringing up her second ODI fifty. However she was soon to depart for 51 runs that took 82 balls, leaving West Indies at three down for 77. Just a while ago they were 51 for no loss. It seemed that the familiar batting collapse would be on show.
That is when captain Taylor got into the act. With Chedean Nation, who turned 33 on Thursday (October 31), Taylor added 78 runs for the fourth wicket, to keep the Indians wicketless for close to 15 overs. The duo rotated the strike well and found the boundary ropes regularly.
After initially being watchful, Nation came into her own and looked good to bring up her maiden fifty. But that was not to be as she, in a bid to up the ante, slogged one off Jhulan Goswami straight to Punam Raut at deep mid-wicket. She visibly seemed dejected as she walked back for a well-made 43 off 55 balls.
With just over 10 overs to go, West Indies were well placed, with 155 runs on the board and six wickets in the bank.
That’s when Taylor decided to go berserk. She looked at ease hitting the spinners and pacers alike. She brought up her 35th fifty in ODIs off 69 balls. She used the depth of the crease to sweep and cut the spinners while using her power to muscle the pacers.
Before the last over of the innings started, she was on 83; with last two balls to go, she was on 88. On the penultimate ball, she slogged one towards long on. Harmanpreet Kaur there judged it to perfection and also managed to catch it. But Taylor had just got enough to take her to 94 as Kaur had taken it beyond the ropes.
What happened on the next ball was other-worldly – the ones that should have the disclaimer of ‘do not try these at home’ accompanying them. An Ekta Bisht full toss was thumped down the ground by Taylor. She should have, in an ideal world, then celebrated what would have been her second ODI ton. But Kaur rushed to her left from long on and timed her jump perfectly to grab a one-handed stunner – a la plucking a light bulb.
That meant that the West Indies skipper was denied the triple-figure score. However, she had managed to score 44 runs off her last 22 balls and had helped the hosts add 69 runs in the last 10 overs. They had got to 225 for seven.
The Indian bowlers didn’t get the best of supports from their fielders on Friday. As many as two catches were dropped apart from some clumsy effort on the field. Yet, Shikha Pandey and Deepti Sharma picked up two wickets apiece, while Poonam Yadav, Goswami and Bisht had one each against their names.
Chasing 226, India had got a positive start. Priya Punia and Jemimah Rodrigues progressed slowly. They strung their second fifty-run stand in four matches by adding 78 for the opening wicket before Rodrigues departed for 41.
Tayor got the breakthrough as Rodrigues was caught behind, attempting to glide one down to third man. Such was the control and accuracy of Taylor, that she had given away just seven runs in her first spell of six overs.
Raut then combined with Punia and made 22 before being run out due to a horrible mix-up. Meanwhile, Punia brought up her second ODI fifty with a silky drive through mid-off. She had taken 86 balls to get there.
Punia, when on 75, tried to take on Anisa Mohammed and was caught at mid-off. Six runs later, Mithali Raj was stumped off Mohammed. It was the first time she had been out stumped in an ODI after 2014. That left India needing 50 runs in 43 balls.
Shabika Gajnabi, coming in as the concussion replacement for Chinelle Henry, who banged her head on the advertising hoarding while fielding, then picked up two wickets, including the crucial one of Kaur. Mohammed then got into the act and picked up quick wickets towards the end.
With nine needed for India in the final over, Goswami hit a four to bring down the equation to four off three. But Mohammed kept her calm and sealed the deal, picking up five wickets in exchange of just 46 runs.
There was a bit of drama as Yadav was found short of her crease at the non-striker's end while completing a second, but the umpire ruled it in her favour. Although Taylor was agitated by that, Mohammed's calmness ensured West Indies didn't suffer.
Brief Scores: West Indies 225/7 in 50 overs (Stafanie Taylor 94, Natasha McLean 51; Shikha Pandey 2/38, Deepti Sharma 2/41) beat India 224 all out in 50 overs (Priya Punia 75, Jemimah Rodrigues 41; Anisa Mohammed 5/46) by 1 run. PoM: Stafanie Taylor.