Mumbai, Jan. 31 -- Ideally, a World Cup squad should be a settled outfit. But a barren run by the openers over the last year forced India to defy logic and recall a player after three years.
At the end of the day, it was the player, Thirush Kamini, who solved the opening woes and ensured the hosts recorded a crushing victory over West Indies in the Women's World Cup opener, in Group A.
The Chennai player scored 100, the first century by an Indian woman in a World Cup, taking India to 284 for six and beating their previous Cup best of 275 made against New Zealand in 2005. Seamer Niranjana Nagarajan responded by scalping three wickets to help bowl out West Indies for 179, earning a 105-run win at the Brabourne stadium on Thursday.
Only thrice in the last eight ODIs have Indian openers reached the double figure mark, with the highest being a paltry 35 against Australia. Thus India would have prayed for a turnaround when they were asked to bat first.
Poonam Raut (75) and Kamini stitched together a 175-run partnership, the highest for India against a full International Cricket Council member.
"It was crucial for us to get a good start, we were expecting it from the openers on this good batting wicket," said skipper Mithali Raj. "Hope they continue like this against better teams."
With the scoop and delicate cuts a feature of Raut's game, she was the more aggressive to begin with. Once Kamini neared her half-century, she raised the tempo. She even stepped out against Shanel Daley's left-arm spin to strike the first six.
As the 22-year-old crossed the boundary rope, she looked up to the heavens in gratitude. "There were too many things I was thinking of. I was a bit nervous. But I kept telling myself to just keep playing each ball on merit."
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.