A fantastic all round performance from Sophie Devine helped the White Ferns complete a clean sweep of India in the T20’s as they won the third and final game by two runs at Seddon Park. Devine first scored 72 off 52 to power the hosts to 161/7 in their 20 overs, and then came back to pick 2/21 with the ball as the Kiwis again emerged triumphant.
India brought veteran Mithali Raj back into their XI for this clash, perhaps recognising that their middle order needed more stability. The White Ferns won the toss and opted to take first guard, with Devine and Suzy Bates adding 46 inside the powerplay before the latter fell to Arundhati Reddy. Hannah Rowe made 12 off 9 before falling LBW to Poonam Yadav, and her dismissal brought Amy Sattherthwaite to the crease.
The Kiwi skipper and Devine added 71 in 8 overs for the third ticket, but just when New Zealand appeared to be well placed for a 170-175 total, India’s bowlers hit back. The Kiwis managed only 34 runs in their last five overs, with India restricting them to 161/7.
Mansi Joshi was the pick of the Indian bowlers, going for only 27 in her four overs on a good batting wicket, and also picking up the crucial wicket of Devine.
Smriti Mandhana was again in fine form as she lead India’s chase. She had an early reprieve when Hayley Jensen dropped a skier in the second over, and made the Kiwis to pay for the drop, with boundaries coming almost at will for the left hander. The hosts however managed to get Priya Punia for just a run, with the opener playing only two balls- the first and the 20th of the innings.
We had predicted an Indian win on Nostragramus, assuming that the Kiwis would be more relaxed after having sealed the series and that Raj’s presence would lend some steel to an otherwise fragile middle order. The visitors were easily able to keep up with the required rate as White Ferns skipper Sattherthwaite used as many as seven bowlers in an attempt to stem the flow of runs.
Jemimah Rodrigues hit three fours in her 17 ball 21 before becoming Devine’s first victim of the afternoon. Harmanpreet Kaur’s lean run with the bat continued, with the Indian skipper only able to make 2 before edging an Amelia Kerr delivery to short third man.
Kaur’s dismissal brought Raj to the crease and at that stage, India were still in control of the game. The target became 51 in 7 overs, then 46 in 6 and then 39 in 5 as the Kiwis bowled some tight overs. It forced Mandhana to hit out in an attempt to regain control, but she only managed to top edge a Devine delivery, with Tahuhu taking a good catch.
Deepti Sharma and Raj tried their best, with the equation coming to 16 off the last over and then 4 off the final delivery, but Leigh Kasperek held her nerve, and the Kiwis emerged victorious by two runs.