|ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, Group A, Melbourne (Junction Oval):|
|India 133-8 (20 overs): Verma 46, Bhatia 23, Kerr 2-21, Mair 2-27|
|New Zealand 130-6 (20 overs): Kerr 34, Martin 25, Pandey 1-21|
|India won by three runs|
|Scorecard and tables|
India survived a late scare to edge past New Zealand by three runs in a thrilling finish to secure their place in the semi-finals of the Women’s T20 World Cup.
India reached 133-8, with Shafali Verma, 16, again impressing with 46.
Amelia Kerr’s magnificent 34 from 24 balls then gave New Zealand hope, but they fell just short.
India are two points clear at the top of Group A with a maximum six points from their first three games.
They play Sri Lanka in their final group game in Melbourne on Saturday, with New Zealand facing Bangladesh at the same venue on Friday.
India maintain perfect start despite late New Zealand rally
Asked to bat first by New Zealand, India, who had beaten Australia and Bangladesh in their first two group games, once again got off to a fine start thanks to Verma.
The teenager continued her impressive tournament with her 46 coming off just 34 deliveries, featuring four fours and three sixes, though she was dropped twice on 25 and 32.
India looked well set at 80-2 after 11 overs, but the spin of Leigh Kasperek (1-19) and Kerr (2-21) helped to drag the match back into New Zealand’s favour, with India losing five wickets for 31 runs in the middle order.
New Zealand struggled early in their reply, with Poonam Yadav claiming the key wicket of captain Sophie Devine – who had reached 50 in her last six innings – for 14.
But, after being reduced 39-3 from eight overs, Maddy Green (24) and Katey Martin (25) rebuilt the innings.
When Martin went to leave New Zealand 90-5 with three-and-a-half overs remaining, it looked like being a comfortable victory for India.
However, Kerr’s late flurry gave New Zealand hope and left them needing 16 to win off the final over.
Kerr and batting partner Hayley Jensen struck 11 off the first five deliveries to leave them needing a boundary off the last ball to force a super over, but they could only run a scrambled single after an excellent yorker by Shikha Pandey.
‘We’ve learned a lot over these three games’
India captain Harmanpreet Kaur: “It’s a great feeling when your team are performing, we’ve learned a lot over these three games. We got a good 10 overs but didn’t carry on that momentum. We bowled well, sometimes we were not bowling to our plan but now we’re going to get harder games and we can’t have silly mistakes. Shafali Verma is giving us good starts, I hope she can continue.”
Player of the match Shafali Verma: “I’m very happy with the performance, I just want to keep doing it for the team. Even though they were not giving me easy runs, I was just waiting for the loose balls, which is one of my strengths.
“I definitely will improve, I want to thank my father and all the boys in the academy for helping me practice.”
New Zealand captain Sophie Devine: “We thought we did a fantastic job to restrict them to 133 on a good wicket, the way Shafali Verma came out. We were expecting it to be a bit pacier and bouncier, but the spinners managed to tie them down, we had to adapt quickly.
“The way we nearly closed out the game was fantastic – Amelia Kerr did a brilliant job to get us that close. We were close today, but not quite [close enough]. We don’t have too long to sulk about it, as we’re back on against Bangladesh on Saturday.”