Wellington, Feb 6 : Smriti Mandhana struck the fastest T20 International half-century for an Indian woman, getting to the mark in 24 deliveries, but a disciplined performance with the ball and on the field under pressure helped New Zealand fight back to claim victory in the opening T20I here on Wednesday.
As the visitors lost their opening wicket early, Smriti (58) and Jemimah Rodrigues (39) took the charge and played brilliantly, the duo added 98 runs in their team's total off 64 balls for the second wicket, but unfortunately, the middle order failed to take it further.
Mandhana smashed three boundaries and seven sixes in her entertaining 34-ball knock. After opting to bowl, India women restricted New Zealand to 159 for four in their allotted 20 overs.
However, pacer Lea Tahuhu (3/20), and spinners Leigh Kasperek (2/25) and Amelia Kerr (2/28) fought back, and with the fielders holding on to the chances they were offered, the hosts pulled off a 23-run win.
Except, these two batswomen, none of the Indian women remained steady under the rising run rate and pressure. Taniya Bhatia, Radha Yadav and Deepti Sharma exited in single digits, as India women fell apart for 136 runs in the final over.
In the series in New Zealand, she scored her fourth ODI century and an unbeaten 90 in the first two matches respectively to grab top spot in the ICC ODI Rankings for Women's batters.
Mandhana's tremendous performance against New Zealand helped her jump three places, surpassed Australians Ellyse Perry and Meg Lanning to the the number one ranking.
In the 15 ODIs Smriti Mandhana has played since the beginning of 2018, she has scored two centuries and eight half-centuries.
In the rankings, Mithali Raj dropped down a place to fifth losing her spot to Amy Satterthwaite, the New Zealand captain who flew up 10 places to No 4.(UNI)