New Zealand women overcome India to level series 1-1

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Bengaluru, July 1 (IANS) The New Zealand women’s cricket team came up with a fine all-round performance to beat India by three wickets and level the five-match One-Day International (ODI) series 1-1 at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Wednesday.

Batting first, India, who had won the opening tie on Sunday, made a hash of a fine start by opener Thirush Kamini, 61, (96b, 11×4, 1×6) as they lost wickets at regular intervals to be all out for 163 in the final over after being 68/1 at one stage.

The Black Caps shrugged off a shaky start to recover from 68/4 to make 164/7 in 44.2 overs with useful contributions from Rachel Priest (21), Amy Satterhwaite (23), Sophie Devine (33), Katie Perkins (30) and tailender Anna Peterson (23 not out) while India paid the price for some sloppy fielding, including dropped catches.

Kamini was undoubtedly the star of India’s batting as she saw off the Kiwi new ball attack that saw seamer Lea Tahuhu (2/29) repeatedly troubling the batters. She should have picked up a couple more wickets but for the edges that eluded the close-in fielders.

Kamini batted well for her half-century as she grew in confidence after a hesitant start to provide India a solid platform, adding 33 for the first wicket with Smriti Mandhana (12) and another 35 for the second with skipper Mithali Raj (13).

However, India’s dominance gradually eroded after Raj was declared leg before though the ball seemed to be missing leg-stump to provide New Zealand skipper and seamer Suzie Bates the first of her three wickets.

Thereafter, the Kiwis picked up wickets at crucial junctures and despite a battling 31 by Harmanpreet Kaur late in the innings, India were restricted to 163.

In reply, New Zealand kept their composure after a middle-order slump with left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad striking twice in as many deliveries as first Priest and Satterhwaite, and later Devine and Perkins steadied the ship.

However, it was Peterson and Lea Kasperek (17 not out) who eventually took the visitors home with an unbroken 32-run stand for the eighth wicket.

For India, Gayakwad, seamer Jhulan Goswami and left-arm spinner Ekta Bisht took two wickets apiece but the trio could have done more damage with better support from the fielders.

The teams meet again in the third match at the same venue on Friday. The results of the first three matches count in the eight-team ICC Women’s Championship, the top four from which earn direct qualification to the 2017 World Cup.

After Wednesday’s game, India slipped back to the bottom of the table with five points, just behind New Zealand who have six.

Brief scores: India 163 all out in 49.3 overs (Thirush Kamini 61, Harmanpreet Kaur 31; Lea Tahuhu 2/29, Leigh Kasperek 2/22, Suzie Bates 3/21) lost to New Zealand 164/7 in 44.2 overs (Sophie Devine 33, Katie Perkins 30, Anna Peterson 23 not out; Jhulan Goswami 2/14, Ekta Bisht 2/31, Rajeshwari Gayakwad 2/33) by 3 wickets.

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