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Queenstown: Batting let India down as they suffered an 18-run defeat to hosts New Zealand in the one-off women's T20 International here on Wednesday.

Senior opener and vice-captain Smriti Mandhana did not play and her absence was felt badly as India fell short by 18 runs while chasing 156 for a win.

Rookie Yastika Bhatia, who opened in place of Mandhana along with young Shafali Verma, did reasonably well with a run-a-ball 26 (2x4; 1x6) but India never looked like they could chase down the target against an impressive New Zealand bowling attack.

The opening stand was worth 41 runs in 6.3 overs and that was the highest partnership for India.

Shafali was not at her best as she contributed just 13 runs from 14 balls with the help of two boundaries. Captain Harmanpreet Kaur, who made 12 from 13 balls, also looked off colour.

The onus was then on the lower order to give a push for the target. Inexperienced Sabbhineni Meghana, who top-scored for India, did well with a 30-ball 37, which had six fours in it, stitching 34 runs with Richa Gosh (12) for the fourth wicket.

That stand was the last flicker of hope for India and once Meghana was out, there was a batting collapse and the visiting side could only reach 137 for 8 in their allotted 20 overs.

When Meghana was out, India needed 55 runs from 5.1 overs which proved a tough ask for the lower order.

Jess Kerr, Amelia Kerr and Hayley Jensen took two wickets apiece for New Zealand,



while Lea Tahuhu and Sophie Devine got one each.

Earlier, experienced all-rounder Deepti Sharma and Pooja Vastrakar scalped two wickets apiece to help India restrict New Zealand to 155 for 5 after Harmanpreet opted to field after winning the toss.

Vastrakar was tidy with her medium pace as she conceded just 16 runs from her four overs, while Sharma gave away 26 runs from her four overs of off-spin.

Senior left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad leaked 39 runs for one wicket in her four overs.

For New Zealand, captain Sophie Devine (31 off 23 balls) and her opening partner Suzie Bates (36 off 34) scored the bulk of the runs. The duo gave the home side a flying start, stitching 60 runs for the opening wicket.

India named Simran Bahadur and Meghana -- who are in the reserves for the 50-over World Cup -- in the playing XI while Mandhana did not start.

Simran dropped Devine off her own bowling in her first ball of the innings -- second over of New Zealand innings -- and that proved costly for the visiting side. Devine was on 1 at the time.

The New Zealand captain celebrated the reprieve by hitting Simran for two sixes in the fifth over as the home side took 20 runs from that over.

The Indian bowlers took wickets at the regular intervals but failed to stop the hosts from crossing the 150-run mark.

The two sides will begin their five-match ODI contest here on Saturday.



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