Guyana: Captain Harmanpreet Kaur (103, 51b, 7×4, 8×6) Friday became the first Indian woman to record a century in the shortest format as the Women in Blue began their ICC World T20 campaign with a 34-run victory over New Zealand here.
The 29-year-old batsman along with young Jemimah Rodrigues (59, 45b, 7×4) led from the front powering India to an imposing total of 194/5. In reply, the Kiwis were restricted to 160/9 in their 20 overs.
Chasing a massive target of 195, experienced New Zealand opener Suzie Bates (67, 50b, 8×4) gave a wonderful start with her opening partner Anna Petersen (14) as the duo took their side past 50-run mark inside first six overs. But once the partnership was broken by D Hemalatha (3/26), India grabbed the momentum and took wickets at regular intervals.
In the ninth over, New Zealand dealt with double blow when Poonam Yadav (3/33) got the wicket of experienced Sophie Devine (9) and before dismissing Jess Watkin (0) who was set up the order to score some quick runs.
However, Bates continued her strokeplays and her departure in the 14th over assured India of their victory as New Zealand came down to 98/5. Katey Martin (39, 25b, 8×4) and Leigh Kesperek (19, 9b, 4×4) scored some quick runs in the final overs, but it was too little too late for the Kiwis.
Earlier opting to bat after the coin landed in her favour at the Providence Stadium, Harmanpreet led by example after India were struggling at 40 for three. Jemimah too struck a brisk half century and in the process, she, at just 18 years of age, became the youngest player to score a fifty in Word T20 tournament.
India were in a spot of bother when Hemalatha was dismissed, and another wicket would have only added to their worry. However, Harmanpreet and Jemimah had other ideas, adding 134 runs for the fourth wicket in around 13 overs, which included a phase when India scored 56 runs in five overs.
Harmanpreet got into the mode with two sixes off Watkin in the 10th over, as India reached 76/3. Her team added a staggering 118 runs in last 10 overs, thanks to a flurry of boundaries and sixes by Harmanpreet. Lea Tahuhu (2/18) bowled well for New Zealand.
Having cleared the fence eight times, Harmanpreet, who completed her century in 49 deliveries, now has the most number of sixes for India in a T20 innings, beating her own record of, five set against Sri Lanka in September this year.
Brief scores: India 194/5 (Harmanpreet Kaur 103, Jemimah Rodrigues 59; Lea Tahuhu 2/18) bt New Zealand 160/9 (Suzie Bates 67; D Hemalatha 3/26) by 34 runs.