India defeated New Zealand in their last group stage match of the World Cup to seal a semi finals spot for the first time after 2010. Mithali’s century coupled with some great batting cameos from Harmanpreet Kaur and Veda Krishnamurthy helped India to put a score of 265. The magic of the Indian spinners in the second innings wrapped the New Zealand batting to a score of just 79. It was the lowest total for New Zealand in a World Cup match ever.
The Indian camp sure seemed to have done some homework. They learned from their mistakes from the losses against Australia and South Africa. The middle order did not collapse in an attempt to bolster the run rate and Mithali and Harmanpreet did not let the run rate fall below par in the middle overs. The start, however, could have been better. Losing 2 early wickets put the pressure of uplifting the score again on the shoulders of the captain dependable. Mithali and Harmanpreet set up a slow and steady 132 run partnership for the third wicket. After Harmanpreet was caught and bowled by Kasperek, Deepti too was sent packing for a duck by Rowe. Being 154 for 4 after 36 overs, India again seemed to be on the edge of another collapse but that was not the case.
Veda Krishnamurthy who was not able to perform well in any of the previous matches came out on the pitch with a mission. She never let the pressure fall on Mithali to lift the run rate. Her quick fire inning of 70 from 45 balls was something to rejoice for the Indian fans. She and Mithali put together a 108 run partnership for the 5th wicket in just 78 deliveries. Mithali comfortably completed her 6th ODI century but was not able to penetrate her highest score when in an attempt to clear the fence, she was caught by Satterthwaite. India finally finished with 265 on the board which was according to the experts a decently defendable total in a pressure game.
New Zealand in return never seemed on the right track. Losing 2 early wickets to the seamers, their run rate dropped below 3 after the first 10 overs. Playing under pressure, no Kiwi batter could score above 30 with the highest scorer being Satterthwaite with 26. The spinning duo of Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Deepti Sharma did not let any batswoman settle for than 10 minutes. Wickets at regular intervals lead to New Zealand finally succumbing to a meager score of 79 all out. Rajeshwari finished with her career best bowling figures of 5 for 15 whereas Deepti took 2 for 26.
On her way of shattering records, Mithali equaled the record for the most 50-plus scores in ODIs with Charlotte Edwards of England. She fell 5 runs short of her personal best score.
India will next face Australia in the semifinals on the same Derby wicket as of today. Australia has defeated India in their previous encounter in this World Cup but India has not lost a single match on the Derby wicket this season. In the second semifinal, we will see the table toppers England take on the South African team.