ICC Women's World Cup: India outplay Pakistan in opener

Indian eves
Indian players celebrate the fall of a Pakistani batter. Photo: Twitter/BCCI

Mount Maunganui: India thrashed arch-rivals Pakistan by 107 runs to begin their campaign in the ICC Women's World Cup on a rousing note here on Sunday, the much-anticipated face-off ending in a no contest.

Opting to bat after the coin landed in India's favour, in-form opener Smriti Mandhana, Sneh Rana and Pooja Vastrakar struck useful half-centuries to help their team recover from an early wobble and post 244/7 at the Bay Oval.

Chasing a tricky target of 245, Pakistan fell way short of the mark and were all out for 137 in 43 overs, losing their 11th straight game against neighbours India in the 50-over format.

Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Smriti Mandhana
Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Smriti Mandhana celebrate the wicket of Javeria Khan. Photo: AFP/Michael Bradley

Left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad did the star turn with the ball, returning excellent figures of 4/31 after her full quota of 10 overs. Seasoned pacer Jhulan Goswami bowled very well to finish the game with impressive figures of 2/29, while there were also two wickets for Rana (2/27), capping off her fine all-round show.

To start with however, the Indians found themselves under pressure after opener Shafali Verma was dismissed for a duck in the third over.

A 92-run stand between Mandhana (52 off 75 balls) and Deepti Sharma (40 off 57) helped steady the ship.

However, Pakistan came back strongly by claiming a flurry of wickets, including the scalps of skipper Mithali Raj (9) and her deputy Haramanpreet Kaur (5).

It wasn't a good outing for Mithali with the willow but, by turning out in the India jersey on Sunday, the veteran 39-year-old became only the third cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar and Javed Miandad to appear in six World Cups and the first woman to achieve the feat.

Mithali, though, would take her cheap dismissal in her stride as her team achieved the result it sought.

Pooja Vastrakar & Sneh Rana
Pooja Vastrakar and Sneh Rana during their century stand. Photo: AFP/Michael Bradley

After the early dismissal of Shafali, the duo of Smrit and Deepti got together to first steady the innings and then build a foundation for Sneh and Pooja to take their team closer to 250.

Sneh (53 not out) and Pooja (67) shared a crucial 122-run partnership -- the highest for the seventh wicket in ICC Women's World Cups -- to help boost the India total.

For Pakistan, spinners Nida Dar (2/45) and Nashra Sandhu (2/36) snared two wickets each.

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