The old adage 'catches win matches' was never more evident than on Tuesday at the North Sydney Oval where India's fielders, with the exception of the remarkable Amita Sharma, had one of their less memorable days. India's Mithali Raj, put down two catches that were crucial to India's cause, which was unfortunate given her role in this World Cup in guiding India to the Super Sixes with her outstanding batting.
India, winning the toss, posted a reasonable 207. Anjum Chopra was once again the anchor in a floundering innings. Chopra's 52 came from 106 balls but it was the cement that India needed against a hostile New Zealand attack. Mithali Raj was well set on 21 when she edged a Nicola Browne away-swinger, Browne finishing with super figures of 1/28 in 10 overs.
Reema Malhotra justified her selection with an entertaining 59 off just 52 balls. New Zealand bowlers helped India's cause by bowling 21 wides, but we saw some of the best fast bowling from Kate Pulford who took 2-38 in her 10 overs.
It was Pulford who led New Zealand's attack with the bat too as she opened with her captain, Haidee Tiffen. She immediately made her physical presence felt, hitting the ball as hard as anyone in the tournament, as India's fielders chased the white ball over a fast outfield and were tiring.
Pulford, put down by Raj before she had scored 10, departed for a forceful 71 off 88 balls, New Zealand's opening partnership putting on 78 runs in a solid foundation for the chase. New Zealand are now closer to the World Cup final. India can still make it, but they will need other results to go their way even if they beat West Indies in their next match on Thursday. See scorecard in next page
A Deshpande c Priest b Pulford 8
A Chopra lbw Mason 52
P Roy lbw Devine 3
M Raj c Priest b Browne 21
R Dhar b Pulford 5
J Goswami run out 4
R Malhotra not out 59
A Sharma run out (Devine) 14
H Kaur run out 13
S Naidu run out (Priest) 2
G Sultana c Tiffen b Devine 1
Extras (lb 3, w 21, nb 1) 25
Total (all out in 49.4 overs) 207
FoW: 1-14, 2-26, 3-62, 4-83, 5-108, 6-126, 7-153, 8-197, 9-204, 10-207.
Bowling: Devine 8.4-0-35-2, Pulford 10-2-38-2, Browne 10-0-28-1, Bates 9-0-52-0, Mason 7-0-24-1, Tsukigawa 5-1-27-0.
K Pulford st Deshpande b Roy 71
H Tiffen lbw Naidu 23
S Bates not out 47
A S’thwaite c Sharma b S’tana 12
S McGlashan c & b Roy 11
A Mason c Sharma b Dhar 23
N Browne not out 16
Extras (lb 3, w 4) 7
Total (for 5 wkts in 47.4 ovs) 210
FoW: 1-78, 2-109, 3-126, 4-147, 5-175.
Bowling: Goswami 6-1-16-0, Dhar 7-1-43-1, Sultana 10-0-32-1, Sharma 5-0-22-0, Naidu 4-0-14-1, Roy 10-0-60-2, Malhotra 5.4-0-20-0.
(The writer is a sports commentator with ESPN)