Riding on centuries by Smriti Mandhana (119) and Harmanpreet Kaur (109) India crushed West Indies by 155 runs in their Women’s ODI World Cup match, at the Seddon Park in Hamilton on Saturday. The strong bond between Mandhana and Harmanpreet, who made batting look effortless during their record 184-run stand in 182 balls for the fourth wicket - the highest partnership for India in a Women’s World Cup game - came to the fore when the champion left-hander, who was announced as the Player of the Match, in a beautiful, laudable gesture, told the commentators that she wanted to share her award with Harmanpreet. “Harman deserved the award equally. The ICC, I believe, has enough budget to give both of us separate trophies,” Mandhana said with a giggle.
Hurting after the 62-run defeat against New Zealand earlier, India responded with a resounding victory - their second in the competition - which saw them gallop to the top of the table, before they face England at Wellington on March 16. The West Indies, on the other hand tasted their first defeat in the tournament, after having beaten New Zealand and England. The match also saw two of India’s biggest women’s cricket legends achieve new landmarks in their epic careers - while skipper Mithali Raj, currently in a midst of a rare slump, led India to a 24th win in the World Cup, the maximum by an a captain, veteran seamer Jhulan Goswami become the highest wicket-taker in the history of the tournament when she captured her 40th scalp in her fifth World Cup, dismissing Anisa Mohammed.
Like in the case of Pakistan, India have the wood over the Caribbean women in World Cups - having beaten them all seven times in the competition. Before this game, India women’s team coach Ramesh Powar had exhorted his team’s seniors to take more responsibility. He also wanted his top order to show more intent after India had played as many as 156 dot balls against New Zealand. His words seemed to have worked like magic, as, Yastika Bhatia (31) gave India, who chose to bat first, a flying start. However, once she was out caught and bowled by Selman, India slipped to 78 for three. However, Mandhana and Harmanpreet, stitched together a magnificent stand to help their team finish at an imposing 317. It was the first time that India crossed 300 in the tournament’s history. ”
Brief scores: India 317-8 in 50 overs (S. Mandhana 123, H. Kaur 109; A. Mohammed 2-59) vs West Indies 162 all out in 40.3 overs (D. Dottin 62, H. Matthews 43; S Rana 3-22).