India defeated Australia in Hobart on February 7, 2016 © Getty Images
India defeated Australia in Hobart on February 7, 2016 © Getty Images

India’s incredible 16-match came to a halt on Wednesday, May 17 when they lost to South Africa by 8 runs in their second league match of the women’s Quadrangular tournament in Potchefstroom.

Since February 7 last year, when they defeated Australia in Hobart, India have won 16 consecutive ODIs, only one match short of Australia’s record of 17 between 1997 and 1999. India’s previous best winning streak lasted 10 ODIs — a feat they had achieved in 2004 under Mamatha Maben.

Over the last 15 months, India have found different heroes to step up at each turn. The overreliance on Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami is long gone. The likes of Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Veda Krishnamurthy and more recently, Deepti Sharma, Mona Meshram and Poonam Raut have taken the burden of the batting off Raj’s shoulders, allowing her to play with freedom.

Goswami has found a more-than-able-ally in Shikha Pandey, while the spin trio of Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Poonam Yadav continue to peg away during the middle overs.

Ahead of the World Cup, Raj’s blue brigade has gained a great deal of momentum — the batters have struck a rich vein of form and the bowlers continue to impress.

CricketCountry looks back at India’s 16 consecutive victories.

1.  India v Australia, Hobart, February 7, 2016: India win by 5 wickets

Having lost the first 2 ODIs against the hosts, India came back strongly in the final match to register a comfortable 5-wicket win. Riding on half-centuries from Mandhana (55) and Raj (89), India successfully chased down the target of 232 with 3 overs to spare. Pandey and Gayakwad struck at regular intervals with the ball, taking 3 and 2 wickets respectively. Along with Goswami (1 for 33) and Bisht, they helped keep the Australian batting line up to a reasonable total despite a sizeable partnership between Ellyse Perry (50) and Alex Blackwell (60).

2. India v Sri Lanka, Ranchi, February 15, 2016: India win by 107 runs

Mandhana continued her stellar form from Australia, scoring 55 and anchoring the first half of India’s innings before Raj (49) and Harmanpreet Kaur (50) helped lift India to 245 for 6 in 50 overs. India’s bowlers kept the visitors on a tight leash, refusing to let them score quickly. Only Prasadani Weerakkody, the wicket-keeper, put up a fight, scoring a valiant 69. India’s spin trio of Yadav (4 for 22), Gayakwad (2 for 31) and Deepti Sharma (2 for 20) combined to dismiss Sri Lanka for 138.

3. India v Sri Lanka, Ranchi, February 17, 2016: India win by 6 wickets

Sharma’s 4-wicket haul helped restrict Sri Lanka to 178 for 9 in their 50 overs with only Weerakkody (37) and Dilani Manodara (43*) offering resistance. Mandhana (46) and MD Thirushkamini (26) put on a 67-run partnership for the first wicket before left-arm spinner Sugandika Kumari dismissed both. Kaur (41) and Raj (53*), who scored her 40th ODI half-century, saw India through to touching distance of the target before Sharma helped the captain polish off the chase in 43.1 overs.

4. India v Sri Lanka, Ranchi, February 19, 2016: India win by 7 wickets

For the second match in succession, Sri Lanka were deceived by 18-year-old Sharma’s off-spinners: she finished with career-best figures of 6 for 23 to help dismiss the visitors for a paltry 112 in 29.3 overs. Sharma was ably assisted by Pandey (2 for 24) and Preeti Bose (2 for 8), the debutant left-arm spinner from Haryana. In pursuit of the target, India got off to a terrible start losing both openers for just 18. However, Krishnamurthy took charge of the chase, sharing a 70-run partnership with Sharma (28). Her unbeaten 61 guided India to a comfortable 7 wicket win in 29.3 overs.

5. India v West Indies, Vijayawada, November 10, 2016: India win by 6 wickets

India began the ODI series against West Indies with a comprehensive 6-wicket win. The hosts bowled out West Indies for a paltry 131 before they chased down the total in 39.1 overs. The left-arm spin of Gayakwad (4 for 21) and Bisht (3 for 14) accounted for as many as 7 wickets. West Indies showed some fight in the field, reducing India to 36 for 4 in 17 overs. The 97-run fifth wicket partnership between Raj (46*) and Krishnamurthy (52*), however, took India home without further damage.

6. India v West Indies, Vijayawada, November 13, 2016: India win by 5 wickets

Deandra Dottin’s 101-ball 63 went in vain for the West Indies, as India sealed the series with a 5-wicket win in the second ODI. An improved batting performance from the visitors saw them reach 153 for 7 in their allotted overs thanks to Dottin’s 70-run partnership with Merissa Aguilleira (25). All the Indian bowlers bowled economically, Goswami and Bisht finishing with identical figures of 10-2-28-2. Once again, Mandhana (44) got the team off to a good start, adding 63 for the second wicket with Sharma (32). Raj picked up where the duo left off, her 51-ball 45 taking India home.

7. India v West Indies, Vijayawada, November 16, 2017:  India win by 15 runs

Krishnamurthy’s 79-ball 71 was the cornerstone of India’s first innings total of 199 for 6. She shared two important half-century partnerships, first with Kaur (19) and then the debutant Devika Vaidya (32*) to propel India to a decent total after a bit of a wobbly start. West Indies showed great intent in their effort to chase down the total, Hayley Matthews (44) and Shaquana Quintyne (18), the openers, sharing a 49-run partnership. Kycia Knight’s fighting 55 took West Indies closer to the target, but the Indian bowlers, led by Gayakwad (4 for 34), held their nerve to pull off an exciting victory.

8. India v Sri Lanka, Colombo, February 7, 2017: India win by 114 runs

India’s opening match of the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifiers against Sri Lanka was all about two 19-year-olds. The left-handed batting duo of Sharma and Vaidya added 123 for the second wicket to lay the foundation for India’s innings. In what was only her second ODI, Vaidya, promoted to No. 3, scored a fluent 89 and was ably supported by Sharma (54) who also brought up her maiden ODI half-century. Raj’s unbeaten 62-ball 70 gave much needed impetus to the innings propelling the score to 259 for 4. Sri Lanka started their chase well, the openers, Chamari Atapattu and Eshani Lokasuriyage smashing 42 runs in 11 overs. The Indian spinners, Sharma, Bisht and Gayakwad, however, dried up the runs, conceding only 58 in 30 overs and taking 5 wickets. Sri Lanka stuttered to 145 for 8 in their 50 overs.

9. India v Ireland, Colombo, February 10, 2017 India win by 125 runs

Thirushkamini marked her return to the starting XI with a sublime 113* against Ireland. She combined with Sharma (89), who scored her second consecutive half-century, for a 174-run opening partnership. The pair put the toothless Irish attack to the sword, hitting boundaries at will, to take India to 250 for 2. Pandey derailed Ireland’s chase at the very start, picking up two quick wickets, before a run out reduced them to 15 for 3. The middle order of Laura Delany (21), Isobel Joyce (31) and Gaby Lewis (33) put up some resistance, but the spinners, led this time by Yadav (3 for 30), wrapped up proceedings to dismiss Ireland for 125.

10. India v South Africa, Colombo, February 15, 2017: India win by 49 runs

Pandey’s career-best haul of 4 for 34 and Bisht’s 3 for 22 quelled South Africa’s challenge in their pursuit of 206. Despite a fighting 52 from Trisha Chetty, South Africa were unable to counter India’s spin-heavy attack and crumbled for 156 in 46.4 overs. Earlier, half-centuries from Mona Meshram (55) and Raj (64) set up India’s innings nicely, but a middle-order collapse allowed South Africa to claw their way back. A quickfire 29-run partnership between Pandey (21) and Vaidya (19) helped India reach 205 for 8.

11. India v Bangladesh, Colombo, February 17, 2017: India win by 9 wickets

Mansi Joshi’s spell of 3 for 25 rocked Bangladesh’s top order, but they recovered thanks mainly to Fargana Hoque (50) and Sharmin Akhter (38) who shared a 62-run partnership. Bangladesh batted out their 50 overs, scoring 155 for 8. Sharma was dismissed early in the chase, but Meshram continued her good form, compiling an unbeaten 78. She shared a partnership worth 136 with Raj, who also finished unbeaten on 73. India’s victory over Bangladesh meant they booked their berth in the ICC Women’s World Cup in England.

12. India v Pakistan, February 19, 2017: India win by 7 wickets

Bisht’s incredible spell of 5 for 8 headlined India’s crushing win over Pakistan in their last Super Six match of the World Cup Qualifier. The left-arm spinner scythed through Pakistan’s middle order, after Pandey had struck early, to dismiss them for 67. Krishnamurthy took a couple of stunning catches in the slips to cap off India’s wonderful performance in the field. Sharma, who choked Pakistan with her off-spin (10-5-6-1), anchored India’s chase with an unbeaten 29 to see them home in 22.3 overs.

13. India v South Africa, February 21, 2017: India win by 1 wicket

The final of the World Cup Qualifier will forever be remembered for ‘that’ six and the wildly scampered two that took India over the line. Chasing 245 without Raj in the line-up, Meshram (59) and Sharma (71) took it upon themselves to lay the foundation to the innings. The pair shared a 124-run stand for the second wicket before South Africa fought their way back into the match. A cameo from Krishnamurthy (31), a horrible misunderstanding between Pandey and Kaur, and a few Yorkers later, India found themselves at 223 for 8 in 46 overs. Kaur, standing in as captain, carried India over the line with an unconquered run-a-ball 41 — her best knock of the tournament.

14. India v Ireland, Potchefstroom, May 7, 2017: India win by 10 wickets

India began their campaign in the Women’s Quadrangular tournament in Potchefstroom with a thumping win over Ireland who were dismissed for 96 in the first innings. Sharma and Bisht picked up 3 wickets each while Goswami marked her return to international cricket with the wicket of Mary Waldron. Sharma (51*) and Raut (46*), making her first international appearance since February 2016, took India home in 18.4 overs.

15. India v South Africa, Potchefstroom, May 9, 2017: India win by 7 wickets

It was India’s pace bowlers who did most of the damage, with both Goswami and Pandey taking 3 wickets each. The former celebrated her rise to the top of the ODI bowling charts when she took the final wicket of the South African innings, helping dismiss them for 119. Having lost the openers early, Meshram (38) and Raj (51*) steadied ship with a 33-run stand, before Kaur joined the captain to polish off the chase in 41.2 overs.

16. India v Ireland, Potchefstroom, May 15, 2017: India win by 249 runs

The last of India’s 16 wins was their demolition of Ireland by 249 runs when Sharma (188) and Raut (109) went on rampage, absolutely smashing the record book. Their 320-run opening partnership set the foundation for lower order fireworks from Pandey (27 off 14) that took India to an imposing total of 358 for 2. Realistically, Ireland were never in with a shout, as they folded for 109 in 40 overs—Pandey (3 for 16) and Gayakwad (4 for 18) sharing 7 wickets between them.

Top performers in India Women’s 16-match run:

Batters

Player M R Ave SR C
Mithali Raj 15 555 111.00 74.0 5
Veda Krishnamurthy 16 298 49.66 79.9 9
Harmanpreet Kaur 16 265 29.44 61.9 7
Mona Meshram 9 247 41.16 64.0 4
Smriti Mandhana 7 218 31.14 82.3 2
Punam Raut 5 191 95.50 76.7 0
MD Thirushkamini 5 174 43.50 61.3 0

All-rounders

Player M Runs Ave SR W Ave Econ C
Deepti Sharma 15 599 54.45 66.1 22 15.45 2.71 4
Shikha Pandey 15 107 21.40 105.9 26 14.34 3.16 2
Devika Vaidya 7 143 35.75 76.9 6 15.33 3.65 2

Bowlers

Player M W Ave Econ C
Rajeshwari Gayakwad 12 25 14.36 3.33 3
Ekta Bisht 12 22 13.13 2.61 4
Poonam Yadav 8 11 20.27 3.08 3
Jhulan Goswami 8 7 29.57 2.93 2