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Lauren Down’s 64 helps New Zealand beat India by three wickets to lead the series 3-0

Lauren Down’s 64 off 52 balls helped New Zealand chase down the second-highest run chase in the history of women’s ODI cricket. They also won the five-match series with two matches to go. 

The third ODI was played on Friday (February 18) at John Davis Oval in Queenstown. New Zealand won the toss and elected to field first. Both the teams made four changes.

For India- Sneh Rana, Renuka Singh Thakur, Ekta Bisht, and Jhulan Goswami came in for Pooja Vastrakar, Simran Dil Bahadur, Poonam Yadav, and Rajeshwari Gayakwad. Richa Ghosh also did not play. 

For New Zealand- Brooke Halliday, Jess Kerr, Hayley Jensen, and Fran Jonas were replaced by Lauren Brown, Lea Tahuhu, Hannah Rowe, and Frances Mackay.

An opening stand of 100 runs between S Meghana and Shafali Verma kick-started India’s innings. In the fourth over Meghana smashed Rowe for 2 fours and a six followed by 4 fours off Sophie Devine in the 10th over. She got her half-century off 33 balls. However, Rosemary Mair got her wicket at 61 off 41 balls. Her knock included 9 fours and 2 sixes. Her performance has been positive for India thus far, so it will be interesting to see whether she gets a chance in further games and World Cup XI once Smriti Mandhana returns. 

Verma on the other end after scoring her 50 was caught by Suzie Bates off Amelia Kerr in the 20th over. The Indian middle-order could not make the most of it as Yastika Bhatia (19), Harmanpreet Kaur (13), and Mithali Raj (23) lost their wickets. 

Harman fell victim to a stunning run-out by Mackay and Katey Martin. Her form has been a bit of a concern for quite some time. Since 2019 she averages- 30.66 with a strike rate of 71. 

In the midst of a collapse on the other end, all-rounder Deepti Sharma came in and helped India reach the total of 279 runs with her 69 0ff 69. Rowe and Mair took two wickets each. 

In return, veteran Goswami bowled two extraordinary deliveries to send both the openers, Devine and Bates back to the pavilion in her first two overs. After losing the openers, Amy Satterthwaite and Amelia Kerr bounced back and the duo made 100 run-stand for the third wicket. Nonetheless, Goswami again gave a huge breakthrough by getting Satterthwaite’s wicket (59 off 76).

Centurion of the last match Kerr was caught by Thakur off Rana at 67 off 80 balls. Debutant Thakur took her maiden ODI wicket, she bowled Maddy Green over. Bisht who made a comeback after being dropped for a long time took Tahuhu’s wicket in the very next over. India was looking in complete control. 

However, Down and Martin had different plans. The partnership of 76 runs off just 69 balls from these two brought White Ferns back in the game. Martin fell to Deepti Sharma at 35 off 37. Mackay continued from where Martin left. Six runs were required in the last over, Down smashed it for a six on the first ball of the over. She came in when New Zealand was at 153 for 3. This is their first series win since 2018. 

Jhulan Goswami was the pick of the bowlers for the visitors with figures of 3 for 47. Although India fought back, poor fielding cost them this match and the series. They had many chances but failed to capitalize. With two matches left, India still has time to work on its mistakes before the Women’s World Cup begins. 

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