Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha
IRE v IND (1)
SA-W in ENG (1)
County DIV1 (4)
County DIV2 (3)
WI v BDESH (1)
ENG v NZ (1)
India 244 for 7 (Vastrakar 67, Rana 53*, Mandhana 52, Sandhu 2-36) beat Pakistan 137 (Sidra 30, Gayakwad 4-31) by 107 runs
Pooja Vastrakar and Sneh Rana's record rearguard 122-run stand, Smriti Mandhana's 52, and Rajeshwari Gayakwad's 4 for 31 led India to a 107-run victory against Pakistan in what was the opening World Cup game for both teams. Defending 244, India bowled Pakistan out for 137 in 43 overs, thanks to 18-year-old Richa Ghosh, who became the first World Cup debutant to effect five wicketkeeping dismissals.
Pakistan's defeat on Sunday meant teams batting first have won all four matches of the World Cup so far and India continued to have an all-win record of 11-0 against Pakistan in ODIs.
India overcame the scare of a sub-200 score courtesy a counter-attacking 97-ball partnership, the highest-ever seventh-wicket stand at an ODI World Cup, between half-centurions Vastrakar and Rana after Pakistan reduced them to 114 for 6 in the 34th over. At that juncture in Mount Maunganui, opener Mandhana's knock appeared seemingly inconsequential in the first ODI fixture between the two teams since the 2017 World Cup.
Riding India's highest-ever seventh-wicket ODI stand, Rana and Vastrakar helped add a brisk 130 to India's tally in the last 16.5 overs, marshalling them past 200 in the 46th. Vastrakar brought up her second ODI fifty in the following over, off just 48 balls, and soon registered her career-best international score. She finished on 67 off 59 while Rana posted her ODI career-best with an unbeaten 53 off 48.
Before the pair came on to bat, though, the prospect of Pakistan being set a total substantially above their highest successful ODI chase was not on the horizon. Nor of them suffering their 15th straight defeat in ODI World Cups. And it looked highly likely that India's decision to bat after leaving out the in-form frontline batter Yastika Bhatia at the expense of the run-parched opener Shafali Verma, who scored a duck on Sunday, could cost them dearly. But quick runs from the two bowling allrounders wrested the momentum from Pakistan to India towards the closing leg of the innings.
Spin played a decisive role in the innings from the get-go after left-arm spinner Anam Amin was introduced as early as the second over. Diana Baig struck in her second over after a slew of five testing dots and a wide culminated in Shafali losing her leg stump.
Baig discomfited Mandhana with searing inswing up front. The pressure of dot balls mounting, Mandhana, on 12, skied Amin towards the vacant mid-off region in the eighth over but survived as Maroof, who scurried in from the extra-cover position, failed to get under the ball.
Mandhana released some pressure with a lofted drive over long-off for six in Dar's first over to finish India's powerplay on 33 for 1, which included 43 dots. This was their lowest returns in the first 10 overs in 11 ODIs. They reached 50 in the 13th over, in which Fatima Sana had to deliver nine balls. Mandhana, who was on 29 off 45 at the time, improved her fluency as the innings progressed. She became the fourth Indian woman to score 2500 ODI runs when she milked a two off Sandhu to reach 40.
Another milestone came, her 25th score of 50 or more in ODIs, on the 71st ball of her innings. The very next delivery, though, she lost her partner, Deepti Sharma, Sandhu bowling her for 40 to break the 92-run second-wicket stand. It triggered a collapse as Mandhana chipped a return catch to Amin for a 75-ball 52. Amin, who conceded only six runs and 18 dots in her 23 boundary-less balls to Mandhana, had the last laugh.
Dar was the next to strike, trapping No. 5 Harmanpreet Kaur lbw and crashing into wicketkeeper Ghosh's stumps. Mithali Raj, too, succumbed to Pakistan's spin offensive as Baig gobbled up her mistimed slog off Sandhu at point. India, as a result, slumped from 96 for 1 to 114 for 6 in the space of 11.2 overs. All five Pakistan bowlers picked up at least one wicket each. Sandhu, with 2 for 36 off her full allotment, was the most successful among them.
India's bowlers, complemented by Ghosh's spectacular glovework, applied the choke from the outset, with the injured Vastrakar not taking the field for the chase. First-change Gayakwad got the first breakthrough with the wicket of the experienced Javeria Khan, after the opener crawled to 11 off 28, and Pakistan to just 26 in the powerplay, with 47 dot balls. In that phase, it was the pace tandem of Jhulan Goswami and Meghna Singh that kept the opposition on a leash.
Pakistan burned both their DRS calls while crumbling. First, when captain Bismah Maroof, playing her first international fixture since returning from maternity leave, under-edged a sweep off Deepti to the agile and alert Ghosh. Later, No. 7 Fatima Sana opted for the review in vain after Gayakwad struck her plumb on the pad. Gayakwad's returns of 4 for 31 were the best on the day.
The other India spinners, Rana, who took her maiden World Cup wicket on her second ball, finished with 2 for 27 and Deepti claimed 1 for 31. Goswami picked up 2 for 26, including a maiden, and Meghna sealed the win with Baig's wicket.
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