A belligerent 134-run partnership between Jemimah Rodrigues and Harmanpreet Kaur took India women to their second highest total in Women's T20 and helped brush aside the White Ferns by 34 runs in the tournament opener at Providence Stadium, Guyana. Opting to bat first, India women lost their first three wickets in the powerplay but revived through their aggressive skipper and a determined No 3.
With 195 to chase, the four spinners spun a web around New Zealand batswomen, and despite opener Suzie Bates slamming a wonderful half-century, the game was well within India’s control.
Here we rate the Indian women’s performance in the first game on a scale of 1-10.
Taniya Bhatia - 2/10
Bhatia kickstarted India’s World Cup campaign in style, glancing off-spinner Jess Watkin for four off the very first ball of the tournament. She added one more in the over, pulling the spinner behind square. Bhatia, whose attacking flair and intent have come for special appreciation, stayed true to her reputation in the first over but the introduction of pace spelt doom for her.
Lea Tahuhu seamed one back into the right-hander to clean her up for a flashy, yet ineffective nine from the top of the order. She was quick behind the stumps and made up for her listless show with the bat by effecting two stumpings. That she is the sole keeper in the squad gives her the time to make up for this poor outing with the bat.
Smriti Mandhana - 1/10
Smriti Mandhana had 446 runs in 21 T20Is this year before this game at an average of 24.77, making her the fourth highest scorer in the format this year. With a new open stance that irons out her weakness against pace, Mandhana was expected to start off the tournament on a great note for India much like she did against England in the ODI World Cup last year.
However, that did not materialize as Lea Tahuhu struck for the second time in two overs and removed the Indian opener for two. Mandhana looked to take on the Kiwi seamer with a pull that she never bothered to keep down and paid the price, gifting a catch to the deep fielder.
Jemimah Rodrigues - 10/10
If Harmanpreet Kaur took over the task of accelerating the Indian innings, Jemimah played a dutiful second-fiddle. The 18-year old had impressed in the recent whitewash of the Sri Lankans and continued her rich vein of form in tandem with her skipper.
Jemimah struck seven fours in a 45-ball 59, putting on 134 for the fourth wicket with Kaur. The game-changing stand took India to a position of strength as Jemimah's temperament came to the fore in an anchor role at No 3.
Harmanpreet Kaur - 10/10
Leading from the front, Harmanpreet Kaur became the first Indian woman to hit a ton at the World T20 as she raced to a hundred off 49 balls. With India in a spot of bother after the loss of three early wickets, Kaur stitched a telling partnership with Jemimah Rodrigues, counter-attacking at every single opportunity.
Her first 5 runs came off 13 balls post which Kaur went berserk and launched into the New Zealand spinners. She struck eight sixes in a knock that saw her strike rate soar to 201.96. In the death overs, she clubbed the White Ferns’ bowling to all corners of Providence, scoring 52 - including four fours and as many sixes - in the last five overs where she faced 17 balls.
Dayalan Hemalatha - 8/10
On her debut, Hemalatha seemed to be in a hurry to impress and got off to a flier, clubbing left-arm seamer Hayley Jensen for back-to-back boundaries. The Tamil Nadu player, however, fell off soon to spin. Being in attacking-mode after a flashy start, she pre-meditated the sweep against off-break bowler Leigh Kasperek, and ended up gifting a catch to short fine leg.
With the ball in hand, Hemalatha impressed varying her pace cleverly and putting the White Ferns’ batswomen in two minds. She picked up the first wicket to fall, that of Anne Peterson after a fiery start, and added two more to finish with 3/26 in her quota of overs. After a promising debut, Hemalatha has sealed her place in the side for the clash against Pakistan on Sunday.
Deepti Sharma - 3/10
Even as India’s spinners impressed, Deepti Sharma went missing. She came onto bowl in the third over of the run-chase and gave away 16 in two overs without appearing overly threatening. On a surface where taking pace off the ball was the way to go, the 21-year-old bowled with a flatter trajectory and failed to curb the scoring rate. She conceded 33 in four overs without taking a wicket and despite taking a couple of brilliant catches remains at risk of missing out for Ekta Bisht on Sunday when the team faces arch-rivals Pakistan.
Radha Yadav - 4/10
Picked over Ekta Bisht, Radha Yadav opened the attack alongside Arundhati Reddy and bowled a good first over. While she was expensive in her next couple of overs, Yadav returned to pick up wickets off consecutive balls in her final over to seal the win for India.
She wasn't scared to give the ball some air and found turn from the surface which could tempt the think-tank to stick with her for Sunday. Her swelling economy rate was somewhat mitigated by twin wickets in her final over.
Arundhati Reddy - 4/10
Being the only pace bowler in the final XI, Arundhati Reddy had a horror start as she conceded two boundaries in an eleven-run first over. When she returned to the attack in the final over of the powerplays, eleven more came off her prompting Kaur to look elsewhere for wickets.
The 21-year old, though, made a strong statement in her third over, dismissing the irresistible Suzie Bates with a low full toss. While her economy remains a concern, Arundhati could get a longer run in the starting XI.
Poonam Yadav - 9/10
Just 5 feet tall, Poonam Yadav's sharp leg-spin from a low release point is tough to negotiate for batswomen and she is deservedly the top wicket-taker in the year in T20Is. On a surface tailor-made for her, Poonam wreaked havoc, picking up three wickets to dent New Zealand's run chase.
She dismissed Sophie Devine and Jess Watkin off consecutive balls in the 10th over to break the White Ferns momentum in chase and force them into their shells. The run-rate dropped since then and when it did pick up courtesy Katey Martin, Poonam dismissed her to seal India's supremacy. The leggie finished with figures of 3/33 in her four overs.
Note: Mithali Raj and Veda Krishnamurthy were not rated owing to their minimal role in the match
Rating chart: 10-9: Excellent, 8-7: Good, 6-5: Average, 4-3: Poor, 2-1: Very poor