Shikha Pandey recently held her nerve to help India become the first team in the semi-finals of the 2020 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup with an exciting three-man victory over New Zealand.
After holding India at 133/8, the White Ferns would have imagined their chances in Melbourne as they had not failed to pursue a goal under 140 T20I since October 2013. But they were thwarted with the bat, their starry top positions by Sophie Devine, Rachel Priest and Suzie Bates all fall within nine overs because Amelia Kerr’s stunning late cameo wasn’t enough to prevent defeat.
The tense win at Junction Oval means that India guarantees a place in the last four games. The fight for the last qualification place in group A is increasing.
INDIA WIN A THRILLER!— ICC (@ICC) February 27, 2020
New Zealand make a fight of it, but Shikha Pandey holds her cool in the final over to take her team to the #T20WorldCup semi-final!#INDvNZ | #T20WorldCup
📝 https://t.co/FOcEv7TSQx pic.twitter.com/5bisscAHxA
Another impressive outing from Shafali Verma (46) got India going, but a fine bowling spell from New Zealand’s own teenage talent Kerr prevented her from dominating. The 19-year-old New Zealand leg spinner took the innings-changing wicket before ending in 2/21.
Smriti Mandhana, who missed the win over Bangladesh due to viral fever, saw her comeback canceled when Lea Tahuhu released her in the third game for eleven and the opener pecked her stumps. But Verma rose again, the 16-year-old struck two sixes in a row to direct India to 49/1 in the Powerplay.
Taniya Bhatia, in third place, soon followed Verma’s leadership and took over India over 60, but she died for 23 when Kerr caught her at one point ahead of Rosemary Mair. The same duo rejoined to fire Jemimah Rodrigues for 10.
Verma was given a lifeline twice when the chances on the field were missed. Maddy Green missed an opportunity long before Tahuhu appeared in the middle of the wicket.
Harmanpreet Kaur’s disappointing form continued when Leigh Kasperek’s Indian captain was caught and bowled for 1 – her third single-digit point in the tournament. Hayley Jensen made up for her team’s previous mistakes by catching Verma for 46 under Kerr’s cover before the spinner struck Veda Krishnamurthy lbw for 6.
In the hunt for 134, Priest’s time in the middle was short-lived as her flight option backfired. Radha Yadav held on to the middle of the wicket in front of Pandey to remove the opener for 12. The White Ferns’ start into the innings got worse as The Bates Devine partnership fell after four overs, the former Deepti Sharma handed over her 50th T20I wicket.
It wasn’t long before Poonam Yadav struck with her spin and released Devine after the skipper misaligned her full throw to show.
The fourth-wicket pair, Green (24) and Katey Martin (25) trudged on cautiously and entered into a 43-year partnership before Bhatia caught the former ahead of Rajeshwari Gayakwad. Two overs later and Martin was gone, Rodrigues caught on the mid-wicket border in front of Radha Yadav.
That seemed like a game and pollinate, but Kerr (34) resisted Poonam’s exploits to start a nerve-wracking finale that scored 18 goals in the penultimate game. But she couldn’t raise a final ball six when the White Ferns were painful and suffered their first loss at the T20 Women’s World Cup.