Auckland: Mithali Raj, Yastika Bhatia and Harmanpreet Kaur slammed fifties as India posted a competitive 277/7 against Australia in a crucial league match of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup at Eden Park Saturday.
On a fresh pitch at a quirky venue with short square and straight boundaries, India lost their opening pair early but Mithali (68) and Yastika (59), followed by Harmanpreet (57 not out) and Pooja Vastrakar (34) ensured that the side posted a total which will be good enough to challenge Australia’s deep batting order.
India didn’t have a great start in power-play, losing Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma to pacer Darcie Brown in the first six overs. While Mandhana drove away from the body and nicked to slip, Verma’s slash was snapped by Beth Mooney diving full length for a one-handed stunner at gully.
Mithali Raj and Yastika Bhatia joined forces to put up a record partnership of 130 for the third wicket, as Australia started to leak extras consistently. A total of 16 runs from the 12th over of Ellyse Perry got Mithali and Yastika to settle down without taking any further risk.
Mithali, under pressure due to a lean run, was a busy customer at the crease, getting her singles and made use of pace to get boundaries through square region in off-side. She looked delightful with the cover drive and used her feet well to slam a six down the ground.
Yastika, more aggressive of the two, struck delightful boundaries and ensured the scoreboard was ticking as Australia were pushed to the backfoot.
The duo reached their respective fifties in 77 balls to set the platform for a big total for India. But Yastika fell in the 32nd over, picking out deep backward point off Brown. Six overs later, Mithali didn’t get the required elevation on slog-sweep and holed out to deep mid-wicket off leg-spinner Alana King.
With Richa Ghosh and Sneh Rana falling in quick succession, India were in trouble at 213/6 with almost eight overs left. But Harmanpreet and Pooja produced the big hits to put up a crucial stand of 64 off just 47 balls, taking advantage of Australia’s sloppy day on the field.
Harmanpreet had luck on her side as Mooney dropped her catch at 34. Harmanpreet swept and bisected her way to reach fifty while Pooja shined with a cameo of 34 to give India the apt finishing flourish they needed.
Brief Scores: India 277/7 in 50 overs (Mithali Raj 68, Yastika Bhatia 59; Darcie Brown 3/30, Alana King 2/52) vs Australia.