Openers Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana stitched India's highest partnership ever in T20I cricket as the visitors defeated West Indies Women in the opening match of the five-game series by 84 runs in St Lucia on Saturday. And en route to the century stand, Shafali broke batting legend Sachin Tendulkar's 30-year-old record with her knock of 73 runs.
Playing only her fifth international match for India, Shafali scored her maiden half-century and subsequently, the 15-year-old surpassed Sachin's long-standing record to become the youngest India to notch up an international fifty. Sachin was 16 years and 214 days old when he scored his maiden fifty (59), against Pakistan in Faisalabad in November 1989. It was the legend's maiden Test series and he scored his fifty in his second attempt with the bat.
Shafali scored 73 off 49 deliveries laced with six boundaries and four maximums, and outscored her opening partner Mandhana, who managed 67 off 46 with 11 boundaries. Together, the opening pair stitched 143 runs in 15.3 overs -- India's highest T20I partnership in women's cricket -- before being dismissed by Shakera Selman. India ended with 185 for four -- the highest any team has scored against West Indies women.
In reply, West Indies, who missed the services of captain Stafanie Taylor, went three down inside powerplay for just 33 runs. As the run rate climbed up, West Indies failed to withstand the pressure and eventually lost their last five wickets for just 23 runs. The home team managed just 109 runs for the loss of nine wickets in 20 overs.
"We definitely don't want to remember tonight," West Indies' stand-in captain Mohammed said after the game. "Our fielding - we need to sharpen up. We can't restrict a team to a low total if we are going to field like that. And, our batters, they needed to be there at the end, and not expect bowlers to chase 12-13 runs an over."