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MUMBAI — India may not be one of the top contenders, but they began the 2013 ICC Women’s World Cup on an impressive not by thrashing the West Indies at the Brabourne Stadium.
Indian openers Thirush Kamini and Poonam Raut capitalised on Merissa Aguilleira’s strange decision to bowl in great conditions for batting in the first game of the tournament. India backed that up with spirited fielding and some miserly bowling to seal a 105-run win.
Kamini scored 100 off 142 balls, becoming the first Indian woman to score a World Cup hundred while Raut was the aggressor with a nicely-paced 72 off 94 balls.
Their opening partnership of 175 provided the launching pad for big-hitters Jhulan Goswami and Harmanpreet Kaur, who blitzed 36 quick runs each to boost India to a match-winning score of 284-6.
While Kamini anchored the innings, Goswami, the former India captain, was promoted up the order to quicken up the score.
The six-footer from Bengal swung six fours in 21 balls, while Harmanpreet kept the accelerator pressed by hitting four fours and two sixes.
The boundary ropes at the Brabourne Stadium have been brought in to about 60-odd metres on each side. But this didn’t seem to matter since the hits cleared the ropes comfortably. India were also aided by some sloppy West Indian fielding.
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West Indies never got going, losing wickets regularly. They lost Kycia Knight second ball when she tried to steal a single and Harmanpreet threw down the stumps direct at the bowler’s end.
While Nagarajan Niranjana ended with three wickets, Goswami and seamer Amita Sharma were impressive with the new ball, bowling straight lines and getting some swing as well. With their combined spell, India seized the initiative and kept West Indies on the mat.
A couple of umpiring decisions went West Indies’ way when Shaun George and Mark Hawthorne didn’t uphold India’s appeals for what seemed like a straightforward caught-behind and an LBW.
The entertainment of the innings was provided by Deandra Dottin, who scored 39 off 16 balls. The fearsome hitter from Barbados holds the record for the fastest women’s hundred – a 38-baller against South Africa in 2010 in a T20.
She’d already bowled well to take 3-32 having come on to bowl in the 43rd over. Then she started hitting out against the Indian bowlers operating with an attacking field.
Niranjana was hit for two fours off the first balls Dottin faced. Next over, Dottin hit left-arm spinner Gouher Sultana for two sixes down the ground.
Niranjana took some more punishment – six, four and six – before she trapped Dottin plumb LBW to end the contest.
Tougher challenges lay ahead for Mithali Raj's team when they take on England next on Sunday. [See the schedule]