The first ever standalone women’s World T20 kicked off in Guyana on Friday, 9 November.
The tournament opener between India and New Zealand (Group B) became the talk of the town as soon as the 1st innings ended courtesy Harmanpreet Kaur, the captain of India.
Kaur hit her and India’s maiden T20I hundred; a blistering knock of 103 off just 51 balls including seven 4s and eight mighty 6s. It was a knock of authority by a player who is fond of making it count when it matters the most. It seems just like yesterday when she hit 171 (115) not-out against Australia in the semi-final of the World Cup last year- an innings beyond comprehension in its own right.
After winning the toss, India decided to bat first. They were reduced to 40/3 within 6 overs before Harmanpreet Kaur (85) and Jemimah Rodrigues (48) stitched a partnership of 134 (76) for the fourth wicket and steered India to safety. India ended their innings at a solid total of 194/5, ensuring their bowlers had enough runs on the board to defend. Lee Tahuhu starred with the bowl for New Zealand, returning figures of 2 for 18 from three overs.
In pursuit of 195, New Zealand opening batters laid a solid foundation: hit 52 runs before losing Anna Peterson (14) in the 7th over.
Suzie Bates continued to bat flamboyantly but she kept on losing partners at regular intervals. Bates hit 67 off 50 before losing her wicket to Arundhati Reddy. She also became the highest run getter in World T20 cricket.
Bates heroics weren’t enough; wicket-keeper Katey Martin (39 off 25) showed some resistance but she too succumbed under pressure to score quick runs. In the end Southern Stars fell short by 34 runs, scored 160 for the loss of 9 wickets. Dayalana Hemalatha and Poonam Yadav put the brakes on at the right time for India, took 3 wickets each, gave away 59 runs.
India bagged 2 well earned points, their message for other teams is loud and clear, team Kaur means business. They next lock horns with arch-rivals Pakistan on Sunday, 11 November, in St Lucia.
On the other hand, Southern Ferns would look to bounce back in their next match against neighbours and 3 times World T20 champions Australia on 14 November in Guyana.