Harmanpreet Kaur struck a half-century to get back among the runs as India beat New Zealand by six wickets in the fifth One-Day International on Thursday.

The Indian bowlers finally got their act together to limit New Zealand to 251 for nine in 50 overs. India chased the down the target in 46 overs thanks in main to Harmanpreet’s innings of 63 (66b, 6x4, 1x6), Smriti Mandhana’s 71 (84b, 9x4), and captain Mithali Raj’s unbeaten 57(66b, 6x4).

Having lost the one off T20 and first four ODIs, India badly needed a win to gain some momentum going into the ODI World Cup next month. The spinners, who struggled to provide the breakthroughs, accounted for seven of the nine New Zealand wickets to fall.

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Deepti Sharma, Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Sneh Rana took two wickets each. Fast bowler Meghna Singh, too, was impressive in the five overs she bowled. Star batter Mandhana, who had missed the first three ODIs and the T20 due to an extended stay in quarantine, also got some valuable time in the middle.

The ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year collected nine fours in her 84-ball effort.

Harmanpreet’s half-century was her first in nearly 12 months. She was dropped from the previous game after a prolonged lean patch and had been criticised heavily by former players, including ex captain Diana Edulji. Harmanpreet used the sweep shot effectively to collect a bunch of boundaries before using a pull shot to reach fifty.

‘Good sign’

“We have improved over the last few games we have played, that’s a good sign before the World Cup. Was important to have the right preparation before the big tournament. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the camps in India due to the rising Omicron cases,” Mithali said after the match.

“The wicket seemed batting friendly, but the bowlers did well today. Something that we need to work more on is our fielding. When I retire after this tournament, I will see that the squad is far more stronger with the upcoming new talent,” she added.