A complete team performance by Indian women saw them cruise to a comfortable 9-wicket victory over hosts New Zealand in the first ODI at McLean Park, Napier on Thursday. Opener Smriti Mandhana’s 105, her fourth ODI ton, and Jemimah Rodrigues’ (81) maiden fifty took India home with 17 overs to spare and hand them a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
Spinners Poonam Yadav (3/42) and Ekta Bisht (3/32) were the standout Indian bowlers in a one-sided contest.
On what looked like a good pitch for batting, New Zealand team failed to put up a challenging total on the board after India won the toss and asked them to bat.
While there had been concerns about India’s over-reliance on spin for the conditions on offer in New Zealand, the slow bowlers put those fears to rest by bundling out the White Ferns for just 192.
After a solid opening partnership between Suzie Bates (36) and Sophie Devine (28), a run-out from Deepti Sharma changed the complexion of the game. From there on wickets fell at regular intervals with the spinners accounting for eight wickets.
Skipper Amy Sattherwaite (31) and Amelia Kerr (28) tried their best to stabilize the innings, but their efforts went in vain and New Zealand were all out in the 49th over.
Mandhana, who had an ordinary Women’s Big Bash League, toyed with New Zealand bowlers and reached her ton in 101 balls with nine fours and three sixes. The southpaw cleared the boundary with utmost ease and even bludgeoned an 83m six off spinner Kerr.
At the other end youngster Rodrigues too looked comfortable against the White Ferns attack and combined well with Mandhana in an opening partnership of 190 in 32.2 overs, before Mandhana gifted her wicket to Kerr with India three runs from victory.
“I think it’s great to start the series with a win," said skipper Raj at the post-match presentation. “Wonderful to see openers get an over 100-run partnership. I think lot of girls do look up to Mandhana. She had a great 2018 and she is continuing and it gives a lot of confidence to the dressing room."
Mandhana’s 104-ball knock included nine fours and three sixes, while Rodrigues managed nine hits to the fence.
“The wicket was great to bat on. We played according to the merit of the balls and it was a great innings," Madhana said after receiving the player of the match award.
The second ODI will be played in Mount Maunganui on January 29.