Watch Harmanpreet Kaur pull off a stunning catch in India's narrow loss

Real asset
Harmanpreet Kaur, left, is a brilliant fielder in addition to her explosive batting. File photo: AFP

Antigua: The Indian eves failed to chase down 225 and fell agonisingly short in the first ICC Women's Championship One-Day International (ODI) against the West Indies, but Harmanpreet Kaur hogged the limelight by pulling off one of the finest outfield catches of all time at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium on Friday.

Harmanpreet timed her jump to perfection at the long on boundary to deny Windies skipper Stafanie Taylor what would have been a fine hundred. Harmanpreet did remarkably well to keep her balance and produce an absolute blinder off the final ball of the innings bowled by Ekta Bisht.

Electing to bat, the West Indies put up a fighting total of 225/7, thanks to skipper Taylor (94) and Natasa McLean (51). India were bowled out for 224 off the final ball of the game.

India needed eight runs off the final over to win the game. But Anisa Mohammed, who picked up a five-wicket haul, rose to the challenge, striking with the first and final deliveries of the last over to hand a dramatic win to the hosts. She dismissed Ekta and Poonam Yadav for golden ducks, and the experienced Jhulan Goswami was stranded on 14 not out.

Earlier in the day, the hosts got off to a solid start with McLean (82-ball 51) and Stacy-Ann King (12) putting on 51 for the opening wicket. McLean was particularly impressive, notching up an 82-ball 51 for her second ODI fifty.

However, Deepti Sharma helped the Indian eves to make quick inroads thereafter and reduced the hosts to 51/2 in the 17th over. However, Taylor stuck at one end and went on to register her 11th score of 90 or more in ODIs. She smashed eight fours and two sixes in her knock. Her dismissal came off the final ball of the innings.

Chasing the total, Priya Punia impressed once again, top-scoring for the visitors with a 107-ball 75 and provided a solid foundation to the team alongside Jemimah Rodrigues. During the opening stand of 78, India seemed on track on their chase. However, the Windies skipper stepped up again, dismissing Rodrigues for 41 in the 22nd over, and provided the hosts with a much-needed breakthrough.

Punam Raut and skipper Mithali Raj each kept the scoreboard ticking, and by the time India had lost their skipper in the 42nd over, they were firmly in control at 176/4. However, West Indies fought back once again with three quick wickets, reducing India to 195/6 with five overs to go.

Deepti did try to bring India back into the match with a 22-ball 19, but Anisa struck in the 48th over to dismiss the all-rounder. Taylor removed Shikha Pandey, before Anisa completed a thrilling victory by picking up the wicket of Poonam on the final ball of the game to give the hosts a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

The two teams will now lock horns on Sunday at the same venue.

Brief scores: West Indies 225/7 (Stephanie Taylor 94, Natasha McLean 51; Shikha Pandey 2/38) bt India women (Priya Punia 75, Jemimah Rodrigues 41; Anisa Mohammed 5/46).

(With inputs from IANS)

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