Harmanpreet Kaur scored a historic ton as she led from the front to power India to a magnificent 34-run win in the opening game of the Women’s World T20 tournament against New Zealand in Providence stadium, Guyana on Friday.
Kaur’s magnificent 103 off 51 balls made her the first Indian woman player to score a century in the World T20 and also the third captain to score a ton in this event. The Indian skipper’s ton also gave India their first win over New Zealand in World T20 contests, with the men’s team having lost both games against the Blackcaps in 2007 and 2016.
Kaur came into bat when India, who chose to bat, lost openers Taniya Bhatia (9) and Smriti Mandhana (2) to right-arm pacer Lea Tahuhu. However, Kaur, who came at No.5 after Dayalan Hemlatha (15) was dismissed, found great support in teenage sensation Jemimah Rodrigues and the pair proceeded to rebuild the innings.
While Rodrigues was batting with confidence, Kaur took her time but the Indian skipper turned on her aggressive mode by launching off-spinner Jess Watkin for two sixes in the 10th over. After that, Kaur targeted New Zealand skipper Amy Sattherthwaite by hammering two sixes and a four. After reaching her fifty off 34 balls, the Indian skipper tore the New Zealand bowling apart as India blasted 60 runs in the last five overs. Kaur reached her century in the final over as India reached a magnificent 194/5.
New Zealand struggle against spin
In response, New Zealand lost wickets at regular intervals with only Suzie Bates negotiating the Indian bowlers well. However, India’s spinners rose to the occasion, with legspinner Poonam Yadav and offspinner Hemlatha ripping through the New Zealand middle order. Yadav’s 3/33 and Hemlatha’s 3/26 resulted in New Zealand losing momentum very early in the chase.
Bates was the only player who hung in but with the asking rate mounting and with wickets tumbling, New Zealand’s best batter fell for a fighting 67 off 50 balls as India secured a crucial win to start their Twenty20 campaign on a high.
India’s next match is against Pakistan on Sunday in Providence. In the last encounter between these two teams in the 2016 World T20, Pakistan secured a tense two-run win via Duckworth-Lewis method in a rain-affected encounter at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi