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India breeze past New Zealand, seal semi-final berth

Skipper Mithali Raj leads the way with a century; Rajeshwari Gayakwad takes five wickets

With a resounding 186-run win over New Zealand Women, India Women booked a place in the semi-finals of ICC Women’s World Cup, 2017. With Mithali Raj leading the way with a century, the side came out firing on all cylinders in the must-win game. With a brilliant 123-ball 109, the skipper set NZ a 266-run target.

While Harmanpreet Kaur (61 off 90) played a patient knock to support her, Veda Krishnamurthy’s (70 off 45) assault on the opposition helped India post a solid total after being asked to bat. While the medium pacers accounted for NZ openers, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, playing her first game of the tournament, combined forces with Deepti Sharma to tear through the line-up. The left-arm spinner finished with 5/15 as India bowled the White Ferns out for a paltry 79.

With her side left on 21 for two, Mithali built crucial partnerships with Harmanpreet and Krishnamurthy for 132 and 108 runs respectively to set-up the match for India.

While Punam Raut had departed edging Lea Tahuhu to Katey Martin, Smriti Mandhana was bowled by Hannah Rowe. Harmanpreet then joined Mithali in shaping the Indian innings. While the skipper gleaned runs off the NZ attack the middle-order bat held up one end.

As they shaped the innings, Mithali dispatched Rowe to the boundary through mid-wicket to take India to the three-figure mark en route to yet another half-century. Harmanpreet too reached the fifty run mark as she upped the ante. However, while on 60, she departed hitting the ball back to Leigh Kasperek.
Although Deepti Sharma followed her back a run later leaving India on 154 for four, India had the in-form skipper in the middle. Mithali, who was batting fluently continued to plunder runs off the opposition and was ably supported by Krishnamurthy. Joining her captain during the powerplay, Krishnamurthy, ensured that India capitalised on the hard yards done by Mithali and Harmanpreet. She launched into the NZ attack with gusto. Taking the aerial route, she took her chances as she continued attack the NZ bowling.

Mithali, who had once again entertained with her beautifully timed strokes brought up her sixth ODI century with two through the on-side of Kasperek. In an effort to add quick runs, the captain however departed mistiming Kasperek to deep mid-wicket. A ball later, Krishnamurthy perished but the late assault had ensured they set the White Ferns a formidable task.

Although Rachel Priest had survived in the first over with the bails not getting dislodged in spite of the ball taking the inside edge and hitting the stumps, Shikha Pandey accounted for Suzie Bates in the next. The pacer forced an edge from the opener through to the slips and Krishnamurthy took the catch. Two balls later, Priest was given another life this time by Raut at point. But she didn’t last long. In the following over she hit the ball back to Jhulan Goswami leaving NZ on seven for two.

Amy Satterthwaite and Katey Martin then plodded on until Deepti struck to claim the latter and leave the White Ferns on 27 for three. After 24 runs, Gayakwad had Satterthwaite stumped for 26. Although she had not been able to make an impact with the bat in the game, Deepti made vital contributions with the ball. The off-spinner, who was testing the batters castled Perkins to leave NZ reeling at 52 for five.

In the following over, Deepti pulled off a good diving catch Sophie Devine’s mis-timed shot off the left-arm spinner flew to the cover. In her next over, Gayakwad castled Rowe to leave NZ on 62 for seven. In the next over, Green handed a catch off Poonam Yadav to mid-on and India were firmly in the driver’s seat. Gayakwad then claimed Tahuhu and Kasperek to finish with her maiden five-for.

India will now face Australia in the semi-final to be played at Derby on Thursday.

Player of the Match: Mithali Raj for her match-winning century

BCCI Desk

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India face New Zealand in a must-win clash

Jhulan Goswami stresses on the significance of clicking as a unit in a pressure match

India Women’s last game of the league phase against New Zealand Women will be a virtual quarterfinal as the two teams battle for a spot in the semi-finals of the ICC Women’s World Cup, 2017. While India with eight points are at No 4, the White Ferns are at No 5 with seven points and the winner will go through to the next phase.

Speaking to the media ahead of the knock-out game in Derby, pacer Jhulan Goswami emphasised that the team will have to play and click as a unit to win the game. “New Zealand are a quality side and they have played good cricket in this tournament. We are looking forward to a good match. We will plan according to our strengths and try to perform as team in all the departments.”

Reflecting on India’s campaign so far, she said, “The tournament has been a long one, there have been ups and downs. We have to focus on the positives and things that we have done right.”

Speaking about her team, Goswami said, “We have to make a comeback and play good cricket. We have to focus on our process. The girls have been preparing well over the last couple of days. We have had good net sessions. We have played most of our matches here (Derby) so we know wickets and what the conditions are like. We just need one more good day on the field.”

While talking about her own bowling and the way oppositions work to negotiate her threat, Goswami said, “Things are not always going to work out the way you plan them. When you have been playing for over a decade, the opposition is definitely going to plan for you. You plan for the opposition as well. It is important how you bowl, your rhythm, support from the other end, and the fielders. Everything matters. As a senior player, it is important that I take the responsibility, bowl and get wickets. At times when your plans don’t work you have to get back to your basics and begin from the beginning.

“It is important to perform well and fulfil my role consistently. There have been ups and downs for me in the tournament and I have to take responsibility learn from it and start from scratch,” she reiterated.

Speaking about the team’s preparations in the lead up to the tournament with back-to-back series and a packed domestic season, Goswami said, “The kind of preparation we had in the lead up to the World Cup we have never had that before. Most girls have played 15-20 one-dayers, which is helping them in tournament. So, the team is more balanced this time than it has been in earlier years. It is almost the set of girls who have been playing together for a couple of years. They have performed well. So, when you come and play on a stage as big as this, all the experience that you have gathered prior to the tournament well help. You have to enjoy this moment, believe in yourself and go ahead and play good cricket.”

Speaking about the pressure of the do-or-die game against NZ, she concluded “There will always be pressure in an international game. How you handle it and hold your nerve in crucial times is important. The preparation that you have done so far over the last couple of years is for that. All of it will count now. It is not going to be an easy match because they (New Zealand) are also going to come hard at us as they too want to qualify for the semi-final. It is a big match so there will be pressure.” 

BCCI Desk

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