Smriti wages a lone battle
Her scintillating knock to no avail as India loses by two runs
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.
So near yet so far: India failed to build on Smriti Mandhana’s career-best knock of 86.