Guyana, Just over a year after her scintillating 171 not out in the ICC Women’s World Cup in England, Harmanpreet Kaur forced the world to turn its eyes to the Caribbean with her first T20I hundred, lighting up the tournament opener against New Zealand.
On the back of that knock, the maiden century by an Indian batter, her side posted 94 for five, the highest ever in the ICC Women’s World T20s. India then restricted New Zealand to 160, starting the campaign with an impressive 34-run victory.
After winning the toss and choosing to bat, Harmanpreet came in with India at 40 for three in the sixth over, but by the time she was dismissed in the 20th, India had a winning total on the board.
The Player of the Match hit an incredible eight sixes in her innings, including an 85-metre monster that hit the top of the sightscreen, and one that landed in the stands.
Together with Jemimah Rodrigues (59, 45b, 7×4), she put on a fourth-wicket partnership of 134 off just 76 balls, of which she scored 85. It was India’s highest partnership in T20Is, and the 10th highest partnership in all T20Is.
Harmanpreet built her innings slowly, scoring just five off her first 13 balls. Once into the business end of the match, she accelerated, much in the fashion she had last year in Derby. She took her opposite number Amy Sattherthwaite for 18 runs in the 14th over, getting to her fifty off 33 balls in the 15th.
“I think pressure gets the best out of me. I really enjoyed batting today and it was a great feeling to contribute in what was a very important win for us. We have a lot to improve as a team and will be working on certain aspects as the tournament progresses,” said Harmanpreet.
Her graph thereafter was exponential; she scored 53 runs off the next 18 balls she faced, helping India score 118 off the last 10 overs. Lea Tahuhu took a brace of wickets for New Zealand and was their most economical bowler, was only bowled for three of her allotted four overs.
In reply, New Zealand started strong with openers Suzie Bates and Anna Peterson bringing up their fifty partnership in the sixth over. But two wickets in two balls from Poonam Yadav in the 10th over -including the big wicket of Sophie Devine- left New Zealand needing 121 runs in the second half of the innings with seven wickets in hand. They couldn’t quite replicate Harmanpreet’s pyrotechnics.
Bates was dismissed in the 14th over for 67 (50b, 8×4), and wickets fell regularly thereafter, Dayalan Hemalatha scalping three with her off-spin. Despite a rearguard innings of 39 (25b, 8×4) from wicketkeeper Katie Martin, the White Ferns finished on 160 for nine, a score that on another day might have been creditable.
New Zealand now face Australia in a must-win game on November 13, and India face Pakistan on November 11.
Scores in brief:
India: 194-5, 20 overs (Harmanpreet 103, Rodrigues 59; Tahuhu 2-18)
New Zealand: 160-9, 20 overs(Bates 67, Martin 39; Hemalatha 3-26, Poonam 3-33, Radha 2-31).