Windies women win last ball thriller against India

NORTH SOUND, Antigua – West Indies Women survived a massive umpiring blunder in a tense final over to pull off a dramatic one-run victory off the last ball, in the opening One-Day International (ODI) against India Women under lights here late Friday.

With India requiring nine runs from the final over with one wicket intact at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, veteran off-spinner Anisa Mohammed snatched wickets off the first and last delivery to finish with her sixth five-wicket haul in ODIs, as the hosts took a vital 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

Mohammed removed Ekta Bisht without scoring, caught at short backward point off the first delivery but tail-ender Jhulan Goswami eased the tension when she lofted the next ball to the cover boundary.

Goswami was kept scoreless off the third delivery before controversy unfolded off the next ball when she swung to deep midwicket and hurried back for the second. Kyshona Knight’s excellent throw to Mohammed found Poonam Yadav short of her ground at the non-striker’s end, only for umpire Patrick Gustard to astonishingly rule not out.

Captain Stafanie Taylor remonstrated openly with Gustard over the decision and tensions were further heightened when television replays showed Poonam had been indeed run out by some distance.

With three runs needed off the last two balls, Windies Women regained their composure to restrict Goswami to one run off the penultimate delivery and with two runs needed from the last ball, Poonam holed out to Stacy-Ann King at point.

Mohammed finished with five for 46 while fellow off-spinner Stafanie Taylor (2-30) and teenaged pace bowler Shabika Gajnabi (2-25) grabbed two wickets apiece.

They combined to lead a West Indies comeback after opener Priya Punia top-scored with 75 to put India Women in command of the run chase at 170 for two in the 40th over.

Punia faced 107 deliveries and struck six fours, posting 78 for the first wicket with Jemimah Rodrigues (41), 46 for the second wicket with Punam Raut (22) and a further 46 for the third wicket with Captain Mitjhali Raj (20).

Once Mohammed removed Punia in the 40th to a catch at mid-off by replacement player Gajnabi and then drew Raj from her crease and had her stumped in her next over, India Women lost their last eight wickets for 54 runs.

Taylor had earlier produced a player-of-the-match 94 as the hosts rattled up 225 for seven off their 50 overs, after winning the toss.

The right-hander blossomed after a slow start to stroke eight fours and two sixes in a 91-ball innings, before holing out at long off to a magnificent leaping one-handed catch by Harmanpreet Kaur on the ropes, to fall agonsingly short of three figures.

Crucially, she put 78 for the fourth wicket with Chedean Nation who struck 43 from 51 balls with five fours, to pull the innings around after three wickets tumbled for 26 runs to leave the Windies on 77 for three in the 26th over.

Natasha McLean had given West Indies a strong start, belting six fours and a six in an 82-ball 51, adding 51 for the first wicket with King (12).