If there has been one bright spot during India’s tour of New Zealand, it has been Smriti Mandhana. Her knocks of 90 and 105 gave India the ODI series win. Her knock of 58 and 36 almost put India on the cusp of their first win in New Zealand. During the Hamilton Twenty20 International, Mandhana had notched up her highest individual score. With 38 needed off 30 balls, Mandhana was nearing a century but when she fell to Sophie Devine, the game changed in New Zealand’s favour. Deepti Sharma gave India hope by launching Amelia Kerr for six but two superb overs from Devine and Leigh Kasperek meant India needed 17 off the last over. Mithali Raj, brought back in the side for this match, smashed a four and Deepti also hit a boundary to deep midwicket but with four needed off the last ball, Kasperek held her nerve and only a single resulted. New Zealand clinched the final game by two runs and clean swept India 3-0 as the tour ended in heartbreak for Harmanpreet Kaur’s side in Seddon Park, Hamilton on Sunday.
The match will be remembered for Devine’s splendid all-round exploits. Having contributed with the ball, it was the veteran’s brilliant fifty that set up New Zealand’s solid total. The White Ferns chose to bat and Devine along with Suzie Bates (24) gave the hosts a solid start. India tried to fight back with Arundhati Reddy and Poonam Yadav dismissing Bates and Hannah Rowe but a fightback attempt was thwarted by Amy Satterthwaite as she joined Devine in rebuilding for New Zealand.
Satterthwaite and Devine’s partnership put New Zealand on course with Devine notching up her 10th fifty. At 140/2 in the 17th over, New Zealand looked good for a score in excess of 180 but the Indian bowlers fought back in grand style in the death overs, giving away just 21 runs and taking five wickets to restrict New Zealand to 161/7. Deepti Sharma was the pick of the bowlers with 2/28 and all the other bowlers worked in tandem.
In response, India lost Priya Punia (1) cheaply yet again. Once again, it was left to Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues to rescue India. The left-handed Mandhana was the aggressor right from the start, blasting Anna Peterson for a boundary and a six and smashing pacer Leah Tahuhu for three boundaries in an over. Mandhana found the boundary on a regular basis but the 47-run stand was broken when Rodrigues (21) fell to Devine. Mandhana continued to flay the New Zealand bowlers and she raced past her eighth fifty. However, Harmanpreet Kaur’s (2) poor run continued as New Zealand tried to get back in the contest.
When Mandhana fell, the game changed and New Zealand ensured that they did not allow India any chance of coming back into the contest. In the end, a tour that began on a promising note with a series win in the ODIs has ended on a poor note with a loss in four consecutive international games.