Smriti Mandhana, Mithali Raj and bowlers did a wonderful job as India took an unassailable lead in the three-match ODI series over New Zealand with an eight-wicket victory in the second ODI at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui.
New Zealand set a target of 161 after a miserable batting that featured only the notable and steady knock of 71 from the captain Amy Satterthwaite. Another master class batting from India opener Smriti Mandhana and a 151-run partnership with the captain Mithali Raj for the third wicket guided India to seal the series with 88 balls to spare.
It was a one-sided as well as India's one of the most complete performances of a competitive series. India won the toss and opted to field first. Put into bat, White Ferns had a disastrous start as the openers fell very cheaply.
India’s pace-spearhead Jhulan Goswami took Suzie Bates for a 4-ball duck, who got a slight edge while keeper Taniya Bhatia took an easy catch. It was a wicket-maiden for veteran Goswami. Bates' opening partner, in-form Sophie Devine hit the first boundary of the innings off Goswami in the last ball of the 3rd over towards deep backward point.
But, it became a hammer blow to New Zealand’s hopes of setting a decent competitive total as Shikha Pandey trapped her in front of the stumps for only 7 off 11. Earlier the umpire didn’t give it as a dismissal but India’s decision to take the DRS did the job.
In spite of that, captain Amy Sattherwaite set herself to anchor the innings along with Lauren Down. Both added 25 runs before Down had fallen to Ekta Bisht’s delivery, giving a catch to Mandhana at the point. Bisht struck again as she took Amelia Kerr in quick succession for 1 and soon they reduced to 38/4 after 14 overs.
Maddy Green joined her captain at the crease but couldn’t settle down for a long. Both of them added 24 runs for the fifth wicket before Poonam Yadav’s googly dismissed her. Leigh Kasperek along with her captain took 13.3 overs to add 58 runs for the sixth wicket. It took until the 31st over for White Ferns to reach the 100-mark, as they were not able to hit random boundaries or over-boundaries because of brilliant line and length from the bowlers.
However, Satterthwaite eased the pressure by hitting three consecutive boundaries off Deepti Sharma but failed to read Yadav’s delivery. India was badly needed this wicket as the pair was becoming dangerous. Captain’s knock of 71 off 86 with 9 boundaries came to an end in the 34th over. Soon, Jhulan Goswami’s Yorker sent Kasperek in the dugout.
The rest of the job done by Deepti Sharma, who took two scalps in the 42nd over. Bezuidenhout missed the outside off delivery and got bowled while Hannah Rowe too missed the flight and went for a duck. Lea Tahuhu hit Sharma for two boundaries towards backward square leg and deep extra cover respectively and tries to accelerate the innings before she became Jhulan Goswami’s third victim of the innings. Goswami ended up with a brilliant figure of 8.2-2-23-3, one of her best in recent times. The clinical performances from all the bowlers helped India to restrict their opponent within a below-par score of 161.
In response, India’s in-form opener Jemimah Rodrigues went for an 8-ball duck after giving an easy catch straight to Amelia Kerr at mid-wicket region. Soon afterwards, Deepti Sharma, who came into bat at no. 3, too dismissed after scoring 8 off 11.
The pressure fell upon the most experienced cricketer as well as the captain, Mithali Raj and another opener Smriti Mandhana to steady the ship. Mithali Raj combined with Mandhana for a 151 run partnership for the third wicket. While Mandhana was dealing with the boundaries, the captain took some time to settle at the crease and after settling down, she too started hitting boundaries. Mandhana scored a quick-fire half-century off 54 balls. This was her 8th 50-plus score in last 10 ODIs.
The first six of the innings came from Raj’s bat when she hit Kasperek over deep mid-wicket; which eventually brought the 100-run mark for India. Raj went on to score her 52nd half-century off 102 deliveries. When 2 runs were needed to win the match, Mithali Raj finished it in style by hitting a six over long-on off Kerr. Mandhana smashed 90* off 83 while the captain remained unbeaten at 63 of 111 and guided India to another convincing win.
India has taken a 2-0 lead in a three-match ODI series now and will play their next match at Seddon Park, Hamilton on February 1.