India women’s skipper Harmanpreet Kaur notched up her maiden T-20 hundred, as India comfortably beat New Zealand by 34 runs in the first match of the World T20 World Cup on Friday.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, India were rocked early, as they lost both Taniya Bhatia and star batsman Smriti Mandhana to Lea Tahuhu.
Debutant Dayalan Hemalatha too fell cheaply, leaving India in a spot of bother 40/3 at one stage.
However, Kaur and Jemimah Rodrigues then steadied the ship by adding 134 runs for the fourth wicket before the 18 year old Rodrigues was dismissed stumped by Katey Martin off Jess Watkin for a quickfire 59.
The 29 year old Kaur brought up her first T-20 hundred by smashing 103 runs off 51 balls with seven fours and 8 sixes. In the process she also became the first Indian to score a T-20 century in Women’s cricket. Her powerful hitting saw eight balls cross the fence- New Zealand by comparison could only manage one. No team in the previous T20 World Cup had managed to hit eight or more sixes either- another indicator of Kaur’s destructive capabilities.
Her innings propelled India to a mammoth total of 194/5 in 20 overs.
Tahuhu was New Zealand’s best bowler with figures of 2/18 in 3 overs.
Chasing a target of 195 was always going to be a tall order for the Black Caps. but they got off to a flying start as the opening pair of Suzie Bates and Anna Peterson added 52 runs for the opening stand before the latter was dismissed by Hemalatha.
They then lost the wickets of Sophie Devine, Jess Watkin and skipper Amy Satterthwaite in quick succession, leaving them in trouble at 93/4.
Bates became the highest international run getter in T20’s during her innings, but failed to get support from other players.
Arundhati Reddy then claimed the prize wicket of the 31 year old who was caught by Hemalatha at backward point for 67, effectively ending New Zealand’s slim hopes of a victory.
Some late hitting from Katey Martin and Leigh Kasperek reduced the margin of defeat, but India were eventually comfortable victors by 35 runs.
Hemalatha and Poonam Yadav claimed 3 wickets apiece, while Radha Yadav picked up 2 wickets, both off the final two deliveries of the innings.
India will be facing arch rivals Pakistan in their second match on Sunday.