India women defeated New Zealand by 6 wickets in the fifth and final ODI between the sides to prevent a clean sweep. (More Cricket News)
Smriti Mandhana's 71, Harmanpreet Kaur’s 63 and Mithali Raj’s unbeaten 57 helped India chase down 252-run target at John Davies Oval, Queenstown on Thursday to finally have a win in the tour to New Zealand.
The Women in Blue, who had lost the one-off T20I and the four ODIs preceding the game on Thursday, first restricted New Zealand to a decent total before reaching the target with 24 balls to spare. Half-centuries each from Mandhana, Harmanpreet and Mithali made sure India didn't let New Zealand complete a whitewash.
Earlier, New Zealand skipper Sophie Devine won the toss and opted to bat first. The White Ferns had had a decent start even though their openers failed to make it big. Amelia Kerr’s 66-run knock helped them post 251/9 by the end of 50 overs. Opener Devine had also chipped in with a 34 early in the innings.
From the Indian side, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Deepti Sharma and Sneh Rana claimed two wickets each, while Meghna Singh and Poonam Yadav got one wicket apiece.
“We have improved over the last few games we have played, that's a good sign before the World Cup. Was important to have the right preparation before the big tournament,” said Mithali after the match.
India were competitive with their batting in the previous games as well, but it was the lack of execution from the bowling department that kept them at bay against New Zealand. On Thursday, the Women in Blue bowlers were on the money.
“The wicket seemed batting friendly, but the bowlers did well today. Something that we need to work more on is our fielding. Thanks to the New Zealand cricket board for giving us this opportunity. When I retire after this tournament, I will see that the squad is far more stronger with the upcoming new talent,” said the India captain.