27 February 2020

Watch Shafali Verma shine as India survive scare to beat New Zealand in last-over thriller

India survived a late surge from New Zealand to claim a three-run victory in a nail-biting finish to their Group A game at the Women's T20 World Cup and book their place in the semi-final.

Sixteen-year-old wonder-kid Shafali Verma struck a nerve-free 46 as India, who were put in to bat by New Zealand captain Sophie Devine, scored 133-8 from their 20 overs.

It looked for a while that New Zealand would be miles off the pace, but a brilliant 34 from 24 from Amelia Kerr brought them within touching distance before they fell just short in the final over.

India maintain their blemish-free card and now sit four points clear at the top of the group with the maximum six points from three games after beating Australia in the opener and emerging victorious against Bangladesh.

Verma once again showed no signs of nerves as she swung freely and stormed to 46 from just 34 deliveries including four fours and three sixes.

New Zealand had their chances but could not capitalise, dropping the youngster twice on 25 and 32.

After 11 overs the Indian side had reached 80-2 and looked on course for a mammoth score but New Zealand spinners Leigh Kasperek (1-19) and Amelia Kerr (2-21) swung the game back in their favour as India suffered a middle order collapse and lost five wickets for 31.

New Zealand stuttered in their opening overs with Poonam Yadav taking the crucial wicket of the in-form Devine when the Kiwi captain was only on 14.

After eight overs, they were 39-3 and hopes seemed low but a vital partnership between Maddy Green (24) and Katey Martin (25) rebuilt the innings and brought them within touching distance.

With three and a half overs left, Martin fell and New Zealand were 90-5.

Enter youngster Amelia Kerr, whose late flurry left her side needing just 16 from the final over.

Alongside batting partner Hayley Jensen, Kerr struck 11 off the first five deliveries leaving their side needing a boundary off the final ball to force a super over.

Shikha Pandev did not bow to the pressure and executed a perfect yorker, meaning the Kiwi batters could only scramble a single and India claimed the win and the two points.

After the game, Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur was full of praise for her side and the young opener saying: "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."

Verma, who was named player of the match added: "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."

India will now play Sri Lanka in Melbourne on Saturday in their final group game while New Zealand will have to wait until Monday to take on hosts and defending champions Australia.

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