Too much for WI

Thirush Kamini celebrating her century.
Thirush Kamini celebrating her century.

MUMBAI – West Indies won the toss in their opening encounter of the International Cricket Council’s World Cup against India today. And that was as good as it got for the Caribbean women.

Hosts India made a rousing start to their campaign smashing 284 for six in 50 overs, generously accommodated by Windies skipper Merissa Aguilliera’s decision to insert them to bat on a good batting track at the Brabourne Stadium. In response, West Indies could only manage 179 all out to lose by 105 runs.

Opener Thirush Kamini, playing her first international game in three years, pushed on from a steady start to make the first World Cup century by an Indian woman. Kamini also added 175 with fellow opener Poonam Raut – the highest such partnership for India in the Women’s World Cup and also their highest against a Full Member team

India collected 109 in the 13 overs left after Raut fell for 72, with unrestrained hitting from the promoted Jhulan Goswami and the vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur leading them to their highest Women’s World Cup total.

The Indian seamers Goswami, Amita Sharma and Nagarajan Niranjana moved the ball both ways under lights in the stadium separated by a road from the Arabian Sea.

West Indies never recovered from 38 for 3, which included a run-out second ball of the chase, courtesy a direct hit from Kaur.

The diminutive Raut took the lead at the start. Always on the lookout for singles, Raut also hit several scoop shots over wicketkeeper Aguilliera and short fine leg. Three of her seven boundaries came that way but the standout aspect was the way she turned the strike over.

Kamini, slower between the wickets than Raut, took 93 deliveries to get to her fifty compared to Raut’s 71. Her next fifty came at close to run a ball as she overtook Raut with a flurry of powerful strokes that flew into gaps. Until then, Kamini had been stepping out to the army of spinners employed by West Indies and had been driving crisply, only to find the fielders. Now she skipped out and lofted one over deep midwicket for the first six of the tournament. She also started using the sweep more often now, and it was such a shot to short fine leg that brought up the landmark and an emotional, jumping, fist-pumping celebration that ended in an embrace from Goswami.

A few overs earlier, Raut had gone leg-before on an attempted sweep to left-arm spinner Shanel Daley. India sent in the fast bowler Goswami at No. 3. Goswami, the second-most successful bowler in women’s ODIs, used her long reach to telling effect to slam 36 off 21. She made some room outside leg stump and lofted the medium-pacers over extra cover, or launched them over midwicket.

After a tired Kamini failed to make her ground after reaching her century, young Kaur walked in and showed why she is so highly rated by the team management. A furious, swift connection of a slog-sweep brought her six over deep square leg. She proceeded to display a range of strokes in her 22-ball 36. There was a charge and a drive past mid-on, a late cut to third man, and also a straight six. Raj, India’s best batsman, came in as late as No. 8 in the last over but her top order had already ensured an imposing total.

Defending 284, Kaur sent back Kycia Knight second ball with a sprint from midwicket and a direct hit at the non-striker’s end, despite a team-mate almost being in her way and just one stump to aim at. It was the start of a sharp performance on the field by the hosts.

Stafanie Taylor, West Indies’ best batsman, was kept subdued by the movement generated by the India seamers and the bounce from Goswami. She survived a caught-behind appeal off Goswami – replays indicated an inside edge – but walked when Sharma appealed for a catch to the keeper in the sixth over, with the third umpire confirming the ball had carried.

When Shemaine Campbelle walked across to Nagarajan Niranjana to lose her leg stump in the 15th over, West Indies were struggling at 38 for 3. In walked Deandra Dottin, holder of the record for the fastest century in Twenty20 internationals across men’s and women’s games. For about 20 minutes, the sparse but noisy fans, who had been screaming out the India players’ names dutifully, were treated to fearsome power-hitting as Dottin surged to 39 off 15.

Niranjana was the one to suffer the most, with Dottin taking her for three fours and two sixes in seven balls. Dottin dispatched her first delivery violently past point and lofted the next over mid-on. Two straight sixes against the spin of Gouher Sultana followed, after which she set about Niranjana again. A pull landed in the stands over deep midwicket. Three balls later, the advertising boards at wide long-on took punishment with a flat six.

Niranjana’s fifth delivery of the over was a slower one and Dottin played across the line to be trapped lbw. That sent Niranjana on a long celebratory run through the off side, and at 84 for 4, it all but ended West Indies’ chances.

Summarised scores:

INDIA WOMEN284 for six off 50 overs (Thirush Kamini 100, Poonam Raut 71, Jhulan Goswami 36, Harmanpreet Kaur 36; Deandra Dottin 3-32) WEST INDIES WOMEN179 all out off 44.3 overs (Deandra Dottin 39, Shanel Daley 28, Shemaine Campbelle 21; Nagarajan Niranjana 3-52, Jhulan Goswami 2-13, Gouher Sultana 2-38)††

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