Mithali lauds character shown by ‘new India’

India captain reflects on the victory over New Zealand

With Mithali Raj (109) leading the way, India Women comprehensively beat New Zealand Women to enter the semi-finals of ICC Women’s World Cup 2017. Faced with a must-win situation, the Indian team put up a clinical performance to pull off a win.

Discussing the much-improved batting performance which included Harmanpreet Kaur’s timely half-century followed by Veda Krishnamurthy’s blitzkrieg, Mithali said, “Since we are back at the ground where we have played four games we are aware of the wicket and the outfield (as well). Apart from that I think the girls wanted to do well today; give their best. It is (the) one game that can get (us) through to the semis and they knew that. I am extremely happy the way the girls made a comeback.

“I think this is a new Indian team because in the earlier editions we have seen one bad day and we have never made a comeback into the tournament again, but this is a very good win for the girls it will give them a lot of confidence,” she added.

Discussing the batting, Mithali said, “I knew that the wicket is good and there was a lot of pressure because we had lost two wickets early in the innings. It was important for me to stay till the end. If I am around, I can sense that somehow the girls are more confident to play their own game. It was important also to have the partnerships going. It happened the way we expected (required).

“I think it was important for me also to play with a bit of freedom knowing that the game can go either ways. (However) I didn’t want to burden myself with the responsibility; it is different to say (that) I feel it somewhere. Overall, I am very happy because I have not planned an innings like this but in all honesty, I have enjoyed being in the middle and getting the runs,” she said about her knock that shaped the innings.

Elaborating on the move of promoting herself to No 3 in the last couple of games she said, “When we are sending Deepti (Sharma) in to stabilise, we didn’t just want that, but also runs on the board. That is why the management decided that I can push myself up to No 3 and we can have the normal batting order. The middle-order can come into the picture when they actually are required to play the spinners than to come in to face the new ball.”

Asked about the decision of replacing the experienced Ekta Bisht with Rajeshwari Gayakwad (5/15) which paid off, Mithali explained, “Ekta definitely is an experienced spinner but when you need to slow down a bit she of course has to work more on her bowling, especially when the batters are charging at her. Rajeshwari is someone who can turn the ball, who is a little slow. They are two different left-arm spinners. It does happen that sometimes a player is not able to perform in their skill (and then) it reflects on the fielding as well so we thought to give her a break. Maybe when she gets her next opportunity she is in a better frame of mind to perform.

Asked about the advantage of playing the semi-final in Derby, the captain said, “It’s our home ground (laughs) that’s what we are told. Yes, we have played four games here so we are aware of the conditions that is our advantage, but Australia is a very good side. They are the defending champions. They have a lot of players who have played high pressure games, but for this Indian team it is going to be a big game. If we can pull one win there, I think it would be exceptional by the team.” 

BCCI Desk

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India breeze past New Zealand, seal semi-final berth

Skipper Mithali Raj leads the way with a century; Rajeshwari Gayakwad takes five wickets

With a resounding 186-run win over New Zealand Women, India Women booked a place in the semi-finals of ICC Women’s World Cup, 2017. With Mithali Raj leading the way with a century, the side came out firing on all cylinders in the must-win game. With a brilliant 123-ball 109, the skipper set NZ a 266-run target.

While Harmanpreet Kaur (61 off 90) played a patient knock to support her, Veda Krishnamurthy’s (70 off 45) assault on the opposition helped India post a solid total after being asked to bat. While the medium pacers accounted for NZ openers, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, playing her first game of the tournament, combined forces with Deepti Sharma to tear through the line-up. The left-arm spinner finished with 5/15 as India bowled the White Ferns out for a paltry 79.

With her side left on 21 for two, Mithali built crucial partnerships with Harmanpreet and Krishnamurthy for 132 and 108 runs respectively to set-up the match for India.

While Punam Raut had departed edging Lea Tahuhu to Katey Martin, Smriti Mandhana was bowled by Hannah Rowe. Harmanpreet then joined Mithali in shaping the Indian innings. While the skipper gleaned runs off the NZ attack the middle-order bat held up one end.

As they shaped the innings, Mithali dispatched Rowe to the boundary through mid-wicket to take India to the three-figure mark en route to yet another half-century. Harmanpreet too reached the fifty run mark as she upped the ante. However, while on 60, she departed hitting the ball back to Leigh Kasperek.
Although Deepti Sharma followed her back a run later leaving India on 154 for four, India had the in-form skipper in the middle. Mithali, who was batting fluently continued to plunder runs off the opposition and was ably supported by Krishnamurthy. Joining her captain during the powerplay, Krishnamurthy, ensured that India capitalised on the hard yards done by Mithali and Harmanpreet. She launched into the NZ attack with gusto. Taking the aerial route, she took her chances as she continued attack the NZ bowling.

Mithali, who had once again entertained with her beautifully timed strokes brought up her sixth ODI century with two through the on-side of Kasperek. In an effort to add quick runs, the captain however departed mistiming Kasperek to deep mid-wicket. A ball later, Krishnamurthy perished but the late assault had ensured they set the White Ferns a formidable task.

Although Rachel Priest had survived in the first over with the bails not getting dislodged in spite of the ball taking the inside edge and hitting the stumps, Shikha Pandey accounted for Suzie Bates in the next. The pacer forced an edge from the opener through to the slips and Krishnamurthy took the catch. Two balls later, Priest was given another life this time by Raut at point. But she didn’t last long. In the following over she hit the ball back to Jhulan Goswami leaving NZ on seven for two.

Amy Satterthwaite and Katey Martin then plodded on until Deepti struck to claim the latter and leave the White Ferns on 27 for three. After 24 runs, Gayakwad had Satterthwaite stumped for 26. Although she had not been able to make an impact with the bat in the game, Deepti made vital contributions with the ball. The off-spinner, who was testing the batters castled Perkins to leave NZ reeling at 52 for five.

In the following over, Deepti pulled off a good diving catch Sophie Devine’s mis-timed shot off the left-arm spinner flew to the cover. In her next over, Gayakwad castled Rowe to leave NZ on 62 for seven. In the next over, Green handed a catch off Poonam Yadav to mid-on and India were firmly in the driver’s seat. Gayakwad then claimed Tahuhu and Kasperek to finish with her maiden five-for.

India will now face Australia in the semi-final to be played at Derby on Thursday.

Player of the Match: Mithali Raj for her match-winning century

BCCI Desk

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