New Zealand registered a closely fought four-wicket win over India in the second Women’s T20I at Eden Park in Auckland to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
Put in to bat by New Zealand in overcast conditions, India did not get off to the best of starts for the second T20I running. Priya Punia got out cheaply once again, dismissed in the third over after making just four runs in ten balls.
At 8/1, it was time for the double act of Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues to come to the fore. With just the second delivery she faced, Rodrigues hit Sophie Devine for a six, and the duo targeted Lea Tahuhu in the next over, bringing up 16 off an over which included two fours and a six.
The momentum would continue as neither Rosemary Mair nor Amelia Kerr was spared in the subsequent overs. The Indian batters played with freedom, showing no signs of the pressure that crippled them in the last T20I while chasing New Zealand’s total.
It was in the tenth over that Suzie Bates picked up the wicket of Smriti Mandhana for 36 off 27 balls to give New Zealand some reprieve. At 71/2, in walked in Harmanpreet Kaur, but she couldn’t have the impact she usually does, dismissed for 5 by Leigh Kasperek to leave India at 79/3.
Dayalan Hemalatha came in to bat next but retired hurt after making just two runs as she seemed to injure her shoulder while sliding in to the crease to make it in time for a quick single.
The ones and twos kept coming, though, and Rodrigues soon brought up her 50 in the 17th over, even as Deepti Sharma was run-out for 6 and was replaced by Arundhati Reddy at the other end.
It was the 19th over which turned out to be crucial in the situation with India needing to score quick runs, Rodrigues’ three consecutive boundaries off the bowling of Amelia Kerr helping India to propel the score from 115 to 130. Rodrigues was stumped in the same over for 72, and India eventually finished on 135/6.
In reply, New Zealand got off to the perfect start. The pair of Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine quickly propelling the score to 29/0 by the end of four overs.
Even though Deepti Sharma and Mansi Joshi continued to bowl tight lines, the pair of Bates and Devine dealt with the threat with consummate ease, picking up the singles whenever possible and punishing the Indian bowlers even if they wavered by an inch.
It took Radha Yadav in the fifth over to come in and give India a crucial breakthrough, when a straight delivery clattered into Devine’s stumps. She was dismissed for 19 after looking dangerous for large parts of the innings.
Yadav then picked up the wicket of Caitlin Gurrey in her next over to leave New Zealand at 41/2 at the end of seven overs. It was at this point when the pair of Suzie Bates and Amy Satterthwaite began a partnership that would go on to define the rest of the innings.
Satterthwaite played the perfect foil to Bates as the latter took on the Indian bowling attack with some sensible batting. There was no extravagance or expansiveness in the shots, but effective batting picking up singles and doubles whenever possible. With scoreboard pressure not an issue at this point, the Indian bowlers failed to curtail New Zealand at this point.
With the score reading 99/2 in 14 overs, New Zealand seemed to be in cruise control when Radha Yadav dismissed Satterthwaite to pick up her second wicket of the innings, caught by Priya Punia.
The match came alive in the last three overs, New Zealand were 117/3 by the end of the seventeenth over, but Arundhati Reddy struck twice in the eighteenth over to dismiss the dangerous Suzie Bates for 62, and then Anna Paterson with the first delivery that she faced.
It would have been easy for the pair of Leigh Kasperek and Katey Martin to panic as India sensed a way back into the game, but they controlled their nerves. Fourteen runs were needed off the last two overs, and by the time Deepti Sharma bowled the nineteenth over off which five runs were made, the equation was down to nine required from the last over.
Katey Martin then hit Mansi Joshi for a four off the first ball of the last over to relieve the pressure, and even though Joshi clattered Martin’s stumps with the very next delivery, Hannah Rowe and Leigh Kasperek took 2, 1, 1 and 1 off the last four balls to give New Zealand a narrow victory.
With the win, New Zealand took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match T20I series.