Put into bat by New Zealand in a virtual quarter-final of the 2017 Women’s World Cup game in Derby on Saturday, India slipped to 21 for 2 when Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur joined hands for a 132-run stand. They started slowly before Kaur picked up the pace. But she got out off the first ball of the batting Power Play in the 36th over, and the innings could have gone downhill from there as Deepti Sharma too got out.
It was up to Raj to take the innings forward, and she found an able ally in Veda Krishnamurthy. The moment of the day came during their 108-run stand in the 48th over bowled by Leigh Kasperek, when Raj stepped out to drive between long-on and midwicket for a brace to bring up her sixth One-Day International century.
Having become the first to score 6,000 runs in ODIs in the loss against Australia, Raj looked relieved as she hugged Veda in the middle.
Raj made a century on debut in 1999, but has achieved the milestone only five times since then. It was her second World Cup century, having made her first against Pakistan in a seventh-place off game at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack in the 2013 edition. The knock helped India beat New Zealand by 186 runs and earn a first semi-final appearance at ICC events in seven years, the last one being the 2010 Women’s World Twenty20 in the West Indies.