Pooja Rastraka made a career-best 69 in a 112-run seventh-wicket partnership with Sneh Rana which lifted India to a 107-run win over Pakistan in its opening match Sunday at the Women’s Cricket World Cup.
India was the first team in four matches at the tournament to bat first on winning the toss. The other three teams, New Zealand against the West Indies, Bangladesh against South Africa and England against Australia, all bowled first and failed in run chases.
In Sunday’s match, India made a commanding 244-7, then defended its total superbly through the spin bowling of Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Deepti Sharma and Rana as Pakistan struggled to generate momentum and was out for 137 in 43 overs.
Left-armer Gayakwad and off-spinners Sharma and Rana bowled with relentless accuracy to a suffocating off-side field and the Pakistan batters couldn’t find profitable scoring areas. Gayakwad took 4-31 from her 10 overs.
Wicketkeeper Richa Ghosh claimed five dismissals.
There wasn’t much turn from the pitch at the Bay Oval but the India spinners used flight and drop to restrict Pakistan. After five overs Pakistan was 6-0, after 15 overs 43-1, after 20 overs 65-3.
Pakistan also bowled well early in the India innings, checking the scoring through the use of spin. India lost opener Shafali Verma in only the third over but a half century from Smitri Mandhana allowed it to recover to 96-1 in the 22nd over when Mandhana fell for 52.
India then lost five wickets for 18 runs between the 23rd and 34th overs, slumping to 114-6 as Pakistan appeared to grab the upper hand. The wickets that fell included India captain Mithali Raj for 9. In taking the field Sunday, Mithali became the first woman and third player after Javed Miandad and Sachin Tendulkar to play at six World Cups after her first in 2000.
Mithali has played in all 11 of India’s matches against Pakistan and India is unbeaten in those matches. Her goal on Sunday was for India to score 250 or more and they fell just short.
Vastrakar was the reason they even came close, coming to the crease No. 7 and reaching her one-day international half century from 48 balls. Her entire innings of 69 came from 57 deliveries and swung the match heavily towards India.
“I’m very happy to win my first Player of the Match trophy and in a World Cup game,” Vastrakar said. “The focus was to get the team towards 200 and I planned my batting with that in mind.
“I love batting in pressure situations. In domestic cricket, coaches always send me out to bat when the team is under pressure.”
Vastrakar found the perfect partner in in Rana who also scored at a high rate, reaching her maiden ODI half century from 45 balls with four boundaries.
India was 160-6 in the 40th over and added 84 runs in the last 10 overs to put a score on the board which required Pakistan to reach its highest World Cup total to win.
India’s win took it to the top of the points table on run-rate after the first full matches. South Africa, Australia and the West Indies also have two points.