An inept batting performance by India led to an all-too familiar surrender against New Zealand as the Mithali Raj-led side went down by 62 runs in its second league stage match of the ICC Women's World Cup 2022 here on Thursday.
New Zealand, which has dominated the Indians throughout this summer, didn't let anything change in a familiar script by first scoring a healthy 260 for nine. They it choked the Women in Blue before bowling them out for 198 in 46.4 overs.
India has now slipped to fifth among eight teams after this defeat while New Zealand, with two wins from three games, is now second, behind Australia, in the overall standings.
Pooja Vastrakar's four for 34 in 10 overs and Harmanpreet Kaur's 71 off 62 balls were two isolated performances which hardly made any impact on the larger outcome.
While Vastrakar's four-for could still be credited for stopping New Zealand's total from going north of 280, Harmanpreet's runs might just help her regain confidence for the upcoming games.
Amelia Kerr (50 and three for 56 in nine overs) first laid the platform with a solid half-century and then breached the defences of rival skipper Mithali Raj (31 off 56 balls) with a flighted delivery.
Her fast googly dismissed Richa Ghosh (0) off the following delivery to make it virtually impossible for India to pull off a win.
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Towards the end, she also snapped up Harmanpreet to make it a perfect all-round performance. Seamers Lea Tahuhu (three for 17 in 10 overs) and Hayley Jensen (three for 30 in 6.4 overs) shared the other scalps.
The pursuit of 261 started on a discordant note with Smriti Mandhana (6 off 21 balls), Yastika Bhatia (28 off 59 balls) and Deepti Sharma (5 off 13 balls) unable to find ways to rotate strike.
Mithali's struggles have been well-documented and it's not getting any better in her last tournament for India.
Even more baffling was coach Ramesh Powar's strategy of sending three left-handers (out of form Shafali Verma was dropped) with home team skipper Sophie Devine giving the new ball to off-break bowler Frances Mackay (8-1-25-0), who would take the ball away from left-handers.
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Mackay bowled as many as 27 dot balls in those first 15 overs to choke the flow of runs.
India hasn't found a way to counter New Zealand and in the past one month, has lost five of the six WODIs against the White Ferns.
The game could be divided into two sets of the first 20 overs where the two teams batted. In the case of New Zealand, the first 20 overs yielded 117 runs for the loss of just two wickets while India, in its response, painfully reached 50 for three in its share of 20.
The difference was 67 runs and if one looks at the margin of victory for the White Ferns, it won't be very difficult to gauge why things went downhill for Mithali's team.
New Zealand's batting has four pillars - Suzie Bates (5), skipper Devine (35), No. 3 Kerr (50) and No. 4 Amy Satterthwaite (75) - and three of them performed on the day.
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