7th April 2005 is one of the red-letter days of Indian Cricket as Mithali Raj lead the team from the front to their first World Cup Final. India defeated New Zealand by 40 runs in Semifinal to proceed towards their much-coveted final.
Batting first, India scored a total of 204. But the lion-share of the runs came off the bat of the skipper herself. Came out to bat at no 3 she not only steadied the innings but also never let the run flow stop. Her 91* first of saved the Indian innings from the fiery spells of Rachel Phullar who took 4 wickets in the match and then took the attack to the opposition to reach 204.
Her innings was decorated with 9 boundaries in which the cover drives were worthy of watching. She reached her 50 in 64 balls which means she made her last 41 runs in just 44 balls which were quite amazing in those days. She as well supported by Anjum Chopra who made the useful contribution of 44 runs.
Both of them added 66 runs for the 3rd wicket which turn out to be handy in the context of the match. And due to the innings of Mithali Raj, the White Fern’s decision to bowl first in the precious Semi-final seemed to backfired at them as they failed to chase the run and lost the match by a huge margin of 40 runs.
Chasing a modest total of 205 New Zealand lost both of their dependable batters in form of Aimee Watkins (0) and Rebecca Rolls (8) within 6 overs. Off-spinner, Nooshin Al Khadeer created more trouble for New Zealand as she removed New Zealand skipper Maia Lewis, the top scorer for the Kiwis in the tournament and Haidee Tiffen in the same over.
Though left-hand batter Maria Fahey and Sarah MacGlashan put up a 61 run partnership for the 5th wicket, it was never enough. The resistance put forward by Kiwi middle and lower-middle order were halted by left-arm spinner Neetu David and medium-pacer Amita Sharma. David who was the most successful spinner in that World Cup picked her 19th wicket in form of Louise Milliken when she was stumped by Anju Jain.
Maria Fahey completed her half-century in 67 balls and remained not out on 73. Mithali Raj’s was declared as the Player of the match for her unbeaten 91 and became the highest score by an Indian in World Cup match (which was later broken by first Thirush Kamini and then Harmanpreet Kaur in 2013 World Cup), the highest run by any Indian captain in WWC and highest knock by any Indian in knock-out game in Women’s World Cup.
However, Mithali’s record of highest run by an Indian in World Cup Knock Out match was broken by Harmanpreet Kaur (171*) against Australia in 2017 World Cup. Eventually It was the first ever Indian Victory over New Zealand in One Day World Cup in their 11th attempt.
India 204/6 (Mithali Raj 91*, Rachel Phullar4/39) beat New Zealand 164 (Maria Fahey 73*, Amita Sharma 3/24) by 40 runs.