Rodrigues lone battle in vain, India Women lose T20I series in last-ball thrill

Auckland: Warrior in blue, Jemimah Rodrigues played a lone battle but could not save India from going down 0-2 and lose the T20I series to New Zealand at the Eden Park in Auckland on Friday.

It was during that 63-run partnership between Smriti Mandhana and Rodrigues that the biggest talking point from the game emerged for India as a flurry of wickets in the middle over ended the touring side’s innings on 135 for the loss of six.

India could not post a decent target but their bowlers did not give up and took the game into the final over thriller, where the hosts needed nine runs. New Zealand held their nerve just a little better than their opponents and clinched a last-ball win in the second T20I.

After losing out the series, Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur said: “New Zealand played better cricket than us. Our bowlers deserve all the credit for bowling really well. You need a decent total in the shortest format and we were 20 runs short in total. We need to learn from our mistakes. I hope we win the final match.”

Mandhana and Rodrigues added 63 after New Zealand asked India to bat. This partnership gave the touring side a platform to inject some momentum before the Southpaw was dismissed for 36. Mandhana gave a simple catch to former New Zealand skipper Suzie Bates on the boundary off Rosemary Mair’s delivery.

A flurry of wickets in the middle overs ensued as skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (5) gave her wicket cheaply to off-spinner Leigh Kasperek, leaving young Rodrigues in the middle to push the score.

Rodrigues blazed 72 off 53 balls, bringing up her fifth T20I half century along the way. Having no support on the other end of the pitch, the 18-year-old smashed leg-spinner Amelia Kerr for three consecutive boundaries before getting stumped by wicketkeeper Katey Martin on the fifth ball of the 19th over. In an attempt to stretch the scoreboard, India ended their innings on 135 for the loss of six.

In reply, Bates led a strong top-order before a clutch of wickets that brought the touring side back into the match. However, a series of misses on the field allowed the hosts to continue their winning streak and pulled off the victory in spite of a good last over from seamer Mansi Joshi.

Bates, adjudged player of the match for her blazing 62, said: “India were great they took the match to the last over. It was good to see Leigh Kasperek and Hannah Rowe finished it off.”

Along with Bates, Devine (19) gave New Zealand a 33-run stand before the latter was sent back by spinner Radha Yadav. However, to put the chase back on the track, Satterthwaite helped Bates with a 61-run stand for the third wicket.

Indian spinner Poonam Yadav, who dismissed Satterthwaite for 23, and pacer Arundhati Reddy with her double-wicket over changed the script for the touring side.

The match came down to 15 runs needed from two overs, then nine from six balls which became five from five as Martin smashed a boundary off Joshi. Shies at stumps by wicketkeeper Tanya Bhatia gave hope to New Zealand and Hannah Rowe finished the match in her side’s favour after taking a single on the last ball.

After winning the series, New Zealand skipper Satterthwaite said: “Leigh Kasperek and Hannah Rowe were brilliant at the end. It is pretty good to win the series.”

India will hope for a consolation win in the third and final T20I against New Zealand at the Seddon Park in Hamilton on February 10.