Indian Women cricketWhen a team is down to 87/8 with 20 overs remaining, you don’t expect anything other than a loss for them in an ODI match. This happened in the first ODI between India and New Zealand at Bangalore on Sunday June 28, 2015, when the visitors reduced India to a pitiable score, from where only one result looked imminent. However, one Indian had different ideas. Jhulan Goswami is in the team not for her batting but she spearheads India’s bowling attack. However, after the wretched batting by India earlier, she picked up the role of the batsman, prolonged the innings for 14.1 overs and was the last woman to get out. Without getting any support from her colleagues, Jhulan produced the highest score of her ODI career. Her 57 off 67 balls contained 6 fours and a six and India could reach 142 all out in 44.3 overs. The target was not greatly challenging but New Zealand women couldn’t hold themselves in the 143-run chase as India’s spinners made life difficult for them. Just 6 runs came off the first 6 overs and a wicket was lost. The New Zealand innings crawled at snail’s pace with wickets tumbling with clockwork regularity. With Ekta Bisht and Sneh Rana sharing 5 wickets between themselves in yielding a combined 44 off 15.3 overs, New Zealand were pushed all the way and eventually fell short of their target by 17 runs.

India’s captain Mithali Raj won the toss and elected to bat first in the hope of mounting a good total with the idea of pressurizing the New Zealand women later. The ploy fizzled out as India lost openers Smiriti Mandhana and Poonam Raut by the 12th over. Lea Tahuhu and Morna Nielsen bowled superbly and struck early blows. From 38/2, India lost 6 more wickets to totter at 87/8 in the 31st over. Jhulan Goswami defied the odds from this point onwards and though she couldn’t get any useful contributions from her colleagues, she forked out two partnerships on her own batting strength. For the 9th wicket, Jhulan and wicketkeeper Ravi Kalpana added 26 runs and for the 9th wicket and Jhulan had Bijapur’s Rajeshwari Gaekwad added another 31 for the 10th before Jhulan fell as the last wicket after scoring the bulk of the runs. Kalpana and Rajeshwari made 3 runs each. But in any case, the target of 143 couldn’t have been called difficult.

When New Zealand came on the bat, they just couldn’t get going and the first six overs produced only 6 runs. India’s batting heroine Jhulan and her new ball partner Ekta Bisht bowled 3 overs each and yielded singles in each of their overs. When Jhulan and ekta yielded 5 runs each in 7th and 8th overs and Jhulan gave away another 4 in the 9th, Mithali Raj brought off-spinner Sneh Rana to bowl the 10th over. Sneh struck on her second ball to get rid of Amy Satterthwaite. New Zealand captain Suzie Bates, who had opened the innings; held one end and watched her teammates to make a beeline for the pavilion. In the 17th over, New Zealand were 38/3 and in all sorts of trouble against India’s bowling. Bates finally fell as the fourth wicket after making an uninspiring 28 off 57 balls. It became clear that New Zealanders were finding it difficult to face India’s spinners. After Bates got out, Sophie Devine and debutant Leigh Kasperek were the only ones who went past 20 but they ran out of partners and New Zealand innings succumbed to 125 all out in 45.3 overs. India thus emerged victorious by 17 runs in the first ODI, something they couldn’t have conjured after batting so badly until the 31st over. The arrival of the bold Jhulan not only rescued India but the cushion of her 57 runs gave Indian bowlers lot of confidence. That New Zealand batted badly was a bonus.