In their final international before the Women’s World Cup starting next week, India managed to shake off their run of losses on New Zealand soil

India 252 for 4 (Mandhana 71, Harmanpreet 63, Raj 54*, Jensen 1-29) beat New Zealand 251 for 9 (Kerr 66, Rana 2-40, Deepti 2-42, Gayakwad 2-61) by six wickets

It was an event in itself. Harmanpreet Kaur hit a six for the first time in ODIs since March 2021. In the 24th over of the chase, she came down the track to left-arm spinner Fran Jonas to smash one high and long over deep midwicket. The full swing of the blade was visible and it was punctuated by a bear-hug from batting partner Smriti Mandhana.

Mandhana and Harmanpreet were involved in a 64-run partnership that took only 65 balls coming and it was part of the three successive half-century partnerships India stitched to successfully chase down the 252-run target in the fifth ODI at the John Davies Oval in Queenstown. In their final international before the Women’s World Cup starting next week, India had managed to shake off their run of losses on New Zealand soil, ending the five-ODI series 4-1.

Mandhana, who played her first game on tour in the fourth ODI, was up and about even as India lost Shafali Verma early. She displayed her full array of strokes in a second-wicket partnership of 60, in which Deepti Sharma, promoted to No. 3 with Yastika Bhatia absent, appeared to be struggling to rotate the strike. The introduction of spin saw Deepti being stuck at the striker’s end, facing 11 dots out of the 16 leading up to her wicket.
Mandhana set about milking the bowling, before hitting a powerful sweep off Amelia Kerr‘s legspin to bring up her 20th half-century in ODI. The knock was not without its chances but the left-hander was quick to brush them aside and march forward.

Harmanpreet, who was “rested” for the previous game, walked in with India still a fair distance from comfort. With Mandhana motoring along at the other end, she took her time to get her eye in before that six off Jonas got her going. A couple of overs later, she hit offspinner Frances Mackay for consecutive fours after being dropped a ball earlier.

Mandhana fell an over later for 71 off 84, but Harmanpreet took the onus to push India forward in the company of captain Mithali Raj, who hit her eighth 50-plus score in her last 12 ODI innings. Harmanpreet got to her first half-century in a year but fell for a 66-ball 63 with India on the doorstep of victory. In the end, quite aptly, Raj shepherded her side to their first win of the tour.
India would have been chasing much more than 252 had it not been for their spinners, who picked up seven wickets between them. Kerr continued her rich vein of form and hit her fourth successive fifty-plus score – to go with an unbeaten century – this series. There has been only one player who has made more runs than her 353 and taken more wickets than her seven in the history of all bilateral series cricket. Sri Lanka’s Tillakaratne Dilshan.
Along with Sophie Devine, Kerr helped New Zealand progress rapidly, adding 68 off just 76 deliveries. Devine took the attack to India’s spinners, carting Rajeshwari Gayakwad for a six off her first ball in the game. But offspinner Sneh Rana got enough bite from the surface to apply the brakes on the hosts’ scoring and dismiss Devine for 34.

Deepti then had Amy Satterthwaite and Kerr dismissed in the space of four overs to help India wrest back control. Lauren Down, though, found the going easy before Hayley Jensen’s cameo of 30 off 33 balls powered New Zealand towards 250.

The spinners ended up bowling 38 of the 50 overs for India and barring Gayakwad, the trio of Rana, Deepti and Poonam Yadav had the economy rate well under five an over.

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo