Mithali Raj and Co. have taken an unassailable lead of 2-0 in the three-match ODI series over New Zealand. They have won the second ODI by eight-wicket at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui. 

India chose to field first after winning the toss. Once again White Ferns had a disastrous start. The victory was first set up by the bowlers. Pace spearhead Jhulan Goswami picked up 3 wickets for 23 which followed by the brilliant spells from the spin troika – Ekta Bisht, Deepti Sharma, and Poonam Yadav; each of them scalped 2 wickets. White Ferns got the big blow in the very first over when Suzie Bates went for a 4-ball duck; who got a slight edge while keeper Taniya Bhatia took an easy catch. They got another blow when in-form opener Sophie Devine soon followed Bates in the dugout. Captain Mithali Raj did the trick by introducing Ekta Bisht in the 10th over. She picked up Lauren Down; who gave an easy catch to Mandhana at the point.

Bisht struck again and took Amelia Kerr for 1 and soon White Ferns reduced to 38/4 after 14 overs. Maddy Green was next to follow, after scoring mere 9 and they became 62/5. Captain Amy Satterthwaite anchor the innings single-handedly, scored 87-ball 71 and added 58 runs along with Leigh Kasperek for the sixth wicket.

Satterthwaite fell for 71 to Poonam Yadav in the 34th over when she missed reading the delivery. After her dismissal, rest of the batters were not able to build a partnership as Deepti Sharma chipped in two wickets in the 42nd over and Goswami’s fine spell restricted them within 161 on board.

India too have a shaky start as in-form opener Jemimah Rodrigues went for an 8-ball duck, giving an easy catch straight to Amelia Kerr at mid-wicket. Deepti Sharma, who came into bat at no. 3, too dismissed after very cheaply, scoring 8 off 11 and they soon reduced to 15/2 within 5 overs.

Sharma’s dismissal brought captain Mithali Raj on the crease. Mithali Raj added 151 runs along with Mandhana for the third wicket. Smriti Mandhana picked up the innings from where she left in the first match. While she was dealing with the boundaries, the captain took some time to settle and hold from the other end.

Mandhana smashed a quick-fire half-century off 54 balls. This was her 8th 50-plus score in the last 10 ODIs. Raj hit the first six of the inning over deep mid-wicket which brought the 100-run mark for the team. She finished the game in style by hitting a long-on six off Amelia Kerr. Mandhana scored 90* off 83 while Raj remained unbeaten at 63 and guided India to another comfortable victory.

In the post-match conference, Mithali Raj praised her bowlers and said that they’re looking for a clean sweep against New Zealand. India have already won the three-match ODI series by 2-0.

“We definitely want to make it 3-0. At the same time, we will try and give some of the youngsters an opportunity,” said Mithali.

“Initially, a lot of people asked me if the spinners can turn the match around on these wickets. The spinners have been doing well from word go and Smriti (Mandhana) has been amongst runs and so has been Jemimah (Rodrigues).”

India’s run-chase in both the matches were done by the opener Smriti Mandhana. Vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur didn’t get the chance to bat yet.

“Batting has not been tested. In a way it is a good thing because whoever is getting the opportunity is making the most of it,” Mithali said.

“As and when the batters get the opportunity, we play according to the situation. Yes, any batter would like to get in there and score runs,” she added.

“It gives a lot of confidence getting into the next game but both the games were on the low scoring side and whoever has got opportunity has got runs.”

While talking about her role in the team, she said she is happy to give support to the team whenever needed.

“As long as I am getting runs, I would be more than happy to play the supporting role or whatever the team’s demands are,” Mithali expressed.

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