Skipper Mithali Raj struck a sparkling century to help the Indian women’s cricket team post a healthy 265/7 against New Zealand in the do-or-die final group tie of the ongoing Women’s World Cup here on Saturday.
Put into bat, Mithali (109 off 123 balls, 11*4) helped resurrect India’s innings with two century stands — first a 132-run third wicket partnership with Harmanpreet Kaur (60 off 90, 7*4) and then joined forces with Veda Krishnamurthy (70 off 45, 7*4, 2*6) to add 108 runs — at the County Ground here.
India were off to a disastrous start, losing the early wickets of Smriti Mandana (13) and Punam Raut (4) to find themselves tottering at a precarious 21/2 by the eighth over.
Mithali, who on Saturday became the first Indian batswoman to notch 1000 World Cup runs, batted cautiously to steady the ship along with all-rounder Harmanpreet as the New Zealand bowlers kept testing the Indians with some tight line and length.
The 34-year-old Mithali, already the highest run-getter in the 50-over format, got to her sixth One-Day International (ODI) ton off 116 balls when she drove Leigh Kasperek between long-on and deep midwicket.
India capitalised the poor start in the middle overs, milking 16-year-old leg-spinner Amelia Kerr for 64 runs besides skipper Suzie Bates leaking 59 from her 8 overs.
Veda’s innings towards the end was what India missed in the previous match against the Australians on Wednesday, as the right-hander gave the innings the much-needed acceleration, which included two towering sixes.
The final over, however, witnessed a quick fall of wickets with Mithali, Veda and Shikha Pandey (0) going one after the other as India finished at 265/7.
For the White Ferns, Kasperek was the pick of the bowlers grabbing 3/45 while Hannah Rowe took 2/30 and Lea Tahuhu contributed with the wicket of opener Punam.
Brief Scores: India women: 265/7 (Mithali Raj 109, Veda Krishnamurthy 70, Harmanpreet Kaur 60, Leigh Kasperek 3/45, Hannah Rowe 2/30) vs New Zealand women.