Opener Beth Mooney made short work of the 173-run target with an aggressive 57-ball 89 to power the Australian women’s team to a convincing nine-wicket victory over India in the first T20 International on Friday. Mooney smashed 16 fours during her stay in the middle and was helped by Tahlia McGrath’s unbeaten 29-ball 40, which included four boundaries and two sixes. Australia thus took a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Earlier, veteran Deepti Sharma shone with an unbeaten 15-ball 36 to power India to 172 for five. Sharma smashed four consecutive boundaries off Megan Schutt in the final over to boost India’s run rate after Richa Ghosh (36 off 20 balls) and the returning Devika Vaidya (25 off 24) added 56 runs for the fifth wicket. Chasing a stiff target, Australia’s formidable opening pair of skipper Alyssa Healy and Mooney gave Australia the start they needed as they added 73 runs in less than nine overs.
Healy and Mooney played some wonderful knocks during their scintillating partnership to put the Indian bowlers under pressure. Things got worse when Radha Yadav dropped a catch at backward point to Renuka Singh, giving Mooney life when the batter was on 4. Medium pacer Renuka then hit Mooney for three consecutive fours, even as her skipper hit the first six of Australia’s innings. If the dropped catch wasn’t enough, India’s fielding was poor.
Vaidya, who is playing her first T20I since her debut in 2014, got the first breakthrough when she had Healy caught by Harmanpreet. The loss of the captain for a 23-ball 37 did not dent Australia’s momentum as Mooney found an able ally in Tahlia McGrath. It was as good as it got for India after Mooney went for 18 runs in the 15th over to reduce the equation from 55 runs off 36 balls to just 37 runs in the last five overs.
Earlier, Sharma hit eight boundaries with her blistering knock, while Ghosh found the fence five times and cleared it twice. India got off to a flying start with teenager Shafali Verma smashing Megan Schutt for a four and a six over long on in the first over which gave away 12 runs. Seasoned Smriti Mandhana (28 off 22 balls) cut debutant Kim Garth for four before Shafali clipped Ellyse Perry offside for her second maximum, the inside edge ball past the keeper for a boundary.
However, Perry got her revenge when she forced Shafali into leg space and the batter ended up catching skipper Alyssa Perry. It was the fourth time Perry had dismissed the 18-year-old Indian striker. Mandhana, who has a good record against the Aussies, showed her class as she hit four boundaries off Garth, a flurry of four to propel India to 45 in one of four overs.
A 17-run fourth over was followed by the wicket of Jemimah Rodrigues, who succumbed to pressure after four dotted balls from Perry, a poorly timed pull from the batsman that landed in the hands of Annabel Sutherland. Schutt was brought back after wicket girl Perry and she conceded just three runs to keep India to 48 for two at the end of six overs at the DY Patil Stadium.
Healy introduced the off-spin bowling of Ashleigh Gardner and Harmanpreet Kaur (21 off 23) drove her through the covers for her first boundary. Healy made another bowling change and it worked as Sutherland had a well-set Mandhana caught by Mooney in a fairly tame dismissal. After a few quiet overs, Harmanpreet pulled Sutherland for a welcome boundary. But Garth had the prized scalp of Harmanpreet – her first in Australia after representing Ireland for a decade – when the Indian skipper played outside her body and hit it straight into the fielder’s cover. The duo of Ghosh and Vaidya then took over.
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