Indian Women comfortably defeated the West Indies Women’s team in their second match of the Women’s World Cup being hosted in England. Chasing a score of 184, the Indians did it with 45 balls to spare and 7 wickets in hand. The Indian star from the first match, Smriti scoring a 90 in the previous match then bettered her score by reaching a century in this one. Mithali Raj gave a stable support to the youngster by scoring 46 off 88 with 3 boundaries.
The West Indies women had faced defeat in their first match too after they lost to Australia on the second day of the tournament. Indian women basking in great form were able to defeat the host by a margin of 35 runs on the opening day. Indians showed a brilliant batting performance in that match too. With three of the top order players scoring over 70 runs. Mithali scored her 7th consecutive ODI fifty in that match bettering her own record. But the one who stole most of the limelight in both the matches was the 20-year-old Smriti Mandhana. In the first match, she scored a ravishing 90 in just 72 deliveries with 11 fours and 2 sixes and built on her form by following with a century in the second match. She scored a 106 off 108 making sure India see past the 183 by the West Indies.
This was her second ODI century and a personal best score after she scored a 102 against Australia women in February 2016. It also made her the third youngest player to score a century in the ICC Women’s World Cup after England’s Charlotte Edwards and Australia’s Meg Lanning. She remained a whisker away from breaking the record for the highest individual score by an Indian Women in the World Cup. The record is held by Harmanpreet Kaur of 107* in 2013. Had West Indies set a bigger target we might have seen that break. 184 was also India’s second highest successful run chase in the World Cup after 195 against Pakistan in 2013.
Hailing from Mumbai, Smriti was acknowledged as one of the Indian key players for the World Cup by numerous experts. Playing under the guidance of Indian veteran Mithali Raj has helped her develop her skills to a great extent. Being just 20-year-old her batting style does not reflect her inexperience. She has played only 25 ODIs since she made her debut against Bangladesh Women in 2013 at the age of 16.
The Raj and Mandhana combo is looking lethal for any team coming across India’s path in the current tournament. They both have shown brilliant performances in both the opening games. Raj missed on her 8th consecutive fifty by just four runs. Her experience of 179 ODIs shows in the field with clever bowling changes with the conditions and also her calm batting style. Mandhana, on the contrary, likes to go after the bowlers. She has an excellent eye for the short ball and we saw some great pulls and drives off the back foot from her on both the instances. She had hit a total of 24 fours in the two matches so far which is the highest. In the first match where Raut played a solid inning with a strike rate below 70, Mandhana rattled the English attack keeping the Indian run-rate close to 6.
She is developing as a real asset for the Indian team and at this age her opportunities are limitless. It’s been a long time since Mithali has been the sole carrier of the Indian Women’s tag in the world but this new spirit could be the next ambassador.