India and New Zealand seems to have made it a habit to play last over thrillers in T20 format. After the Indian men’s team won in 4 sensational finishes last month, it’s the turn of the women cricketers from both countries to play out a thriller in a Wotld cup stage and again India emerged victorious by just 3 runs after holding off a stern Kiwi challenge in final overs .
Batting first ,India started in rapid fashion inspite losing star opener Mandhana (8) early playing on to her stumps. Young Shafali Verma continued her golden run scoring another rapid 46 off 34 balls with 3 sixes. Taniya Bhatia (25) batting at 3 played a run a ball knock but both Rodrigues and skipper Harmanpreet were dismissed cheaply as the Kiwi girls worked through the Indian middle order to restrict them to 133/8 with Kerr (2/21) being their most successful bowler. Had it not been for Shafali’s knock ,India would have struggled badly .
Chasing a modest total the Kiwi girls scored at above 4 an over and were consciously trying to keep wickets in hand . The Indian bowlers once again restricted the opposition and made it tough for them to break free as the asking rate climbed. The Indian fielding also picked up well. There were useful run-a-ball 20s from Katy Martin and Maddy Green but with last 5 overs to go the Kiwi girls needed 50 to win. They game suddenly changed in te 19th over bowled by Poonam Yadav as 19 year old Amelia Kerr , showed great improvisation waiting for the slower balls to arrive before playing her shots as she eked out 18 runs in the 19th over . With 16 needed in final over from Shikha Yadav , Jensen edged 1st ball for 4 and suddenly tension gripped the match. With 9 needed off 2 ,Kerr scooped the ball over third man to leave 5 runs needed off last ball and 4 runs to take the game to a superover (a frequent occurrence for India ,New Zealand T20s this year) . However Pandey kept her nerve to bowl a superb yorker which resulted in 1 run and a runout as India scraped through by 3 runs to reach the semis. New Zealand ended at 130/6. Kerr (34no off 19 balls) played a valiant innings and was emotional after the match. Shafali Verma gets another player of the match after another great batting display.
The Indian bowlers have done brilliantly right through the event so far defending modest totals. Now its upto their captain to strike form and also runs are due from Mandhana and Rodrigues. Shafali Verma’s high risk game is due for a failure, so now the star batters for India need to fire with knockouts approaching.