Sm­riti wages a lone bat­tle

Her scin­til­lat­ing knock to no avail as In­dia loses by two runs

The Hindu - - SPORT -

We need some­one who can bat through 20 overs and some­one who can go in at the mid­dle overs and get runs later on Sm­riti Mand­hana

The In­dian women’s team al­most pulled off a dra­matic win but failed to score a bound­ary off the fi­nal de­liv­ery to lose the third and fi­nal T20I against New Zealand by two runs here on Sun­day.

Chas­ing 162, star opener Sm­riti Mand­hana took the In­dian team on course for a con­so­la­tion win with a ca­reer-best 86 from 62 balls but the vis­i­tor failed to build on her scin­til­lat­ing knock and fin­ished at 159 for four.

In­dia sur­pris­ingly named se­nior player Mithali Raj in the eleven and she con­trib­uted an un­beaten 24 from 20 balls af­ter com­ing to bat at the fall of cap­tain Har­man­preet Kaur (two). But she failed to hit a bound­ary off the last ball off the bowl­ing of Leigh Kasperek.

In­dia needed 16 from the fi­nal over and Mithali and Deepti Sharma (21 not out) had raised hopes by hit­ting bound­aries off the first and third de­liv­er­ies.

Har­man­preet, whose in- dif­fer­ent form has hurt the team, said she was dis­ap­pointed at the re­sult. In­dia had won the three-match ODI series 2-1. “We are dis­ap­pointed to lose the series like this, we could have done bet­ter. We have a lot of work to do,” she said.

Sm­riti, who had scored 58 and 36 in the first two matches, con­tin­ued her red­hot form by notch­ing up her eight T20I fifty, and the sec­ond of the series.

Ear­lier, New Zealand scored 161 for seven, thanks to opener So­phie Devine who top-scored with a sparkling 52-ball 72.

AFP ■

So near yet so far: In­dia failed to build on Sm­riti Mand­hana’s ca­reer-best knock of 86.

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