Smriti Mandhana continued her record-breaking run in international cricket as she broke her own record and blasted a fifty off 24 balls to boost India towards their first-ever win in New Zealand during the first Twenty20 International at the Westpac stadium in Wellington on Wednesday. Mandhana’s magnificent fifty continued the good run of the left-hander who has been in magnificent form in international cricket across all formats in 2018/19. Earlier, India had restricted New Zealand to 159/4 thanks to a dazzling fifty by Sophie Devine. Devine’s 62 and a blazing 27 off 14 balls from Katey Martin boosted the White Ferns and they started off well by getting the wicket of debutant Priya Punia cheaply for 4. Despite Mandhana's brilliant knock, India collapsed and lost the match by 23 runs to trail the series 0-1.
However, Mandhana batted with aggression and she got going with a boundary off Leah Tahuhu. Mandhana continued to target Tahuhu with two consecutive boundaries in the fourth over but in the fifth over bowled by medium-pacer Rosemary Mair, Mandhana cut loose by blasting two fours and a six. Jemimah Rodrigues gave Mandhana good company with a hat-trick of boundaries off Leah Kasperek while Mandhana neared her fifty with two boundaries off Devine.
Mandhana notched up her milestone in grand style with a big six off Devine and her fifty consumed just 24 balls, breaking her own previous record of 25 balls which she had set against England in the 2018 clash at the Wankhede stadium. Mandhana’s fifty was the sixth-fastest by a batter in women’s Twenty20 International cricket, with the fastest being 18 balls by Devine in New Zealand’s encounter against India in Bangalore in 2005.
This was the fastest fifty by a batter in New Zealand and Mandhana’s knock has not only put India on course for a win but it continues her great form in the last year. In the ODI series, the left-hander blasted 105 and 90 in the first two ODIs in Napier and Mount Maunganui as India won the three-match series 2-1. In 2018, Mandhana has been in fine form scoring 669 runs in 12 ODIs at an average of 66.9 with seven fifties and one century which was 135 against South Africa in Kimberley.