After taking a battering in the ODI series, India Women turned things around in the first T20I against Australia Women, thrashing the six-time T20 World Cup champions by nine wickets. It was a clinical all-round performance from the Women in Blue that saw them win just their seventh match against the Alyssa Healy-led side in 32 matches.
With the T20 World Cup just a few months away, it is certainly on the right note and will look to carry this confidence going ahead. Here's a quick recap of what transpired in Mumbai on Friday (January 5):
Titas Sadhu leads the way
Australia were in tatters after being put into bat as fast bowler Titas Sadhu provided India with an ideal start, picking up three wickets in the powerplay. She eventually finished with figures of 4 for 17. The key was her length. She got all her wickets bowling full forcing the batters to go down the track and miscuing them.
Her figures are the second-best for an Indian bowler against Australia after Jhulan Goswami’s 5 for 11 in Visakhapatnam in 2012. India also read the conditions well, going in with four pacers and two spinners. Titas may have missed out if Saika Ishaque was in the XI, but Harmanpreet Kaur and co. decided against it and as it turns out, they made the right call.
An improved fielding effort
India were under the pump in the ODI series after a poor display on the field – be it their ground fielding or their catching. In fact, across the three ODIs against Australia India dropped as many as 11 catches, converting just 45% of their chances. However, they turned up brilliantly in the first T20I, where they barely put a foot wrong on the field, pouching all their chances. There was one moment of confusion between Jemimah Rodrigues and Renuka Singh, where neither of them pouched it despite being under the ball due to lack of communication. Perhaps the only blot in a flawless fielding display.
Litchfield continues to shine
Phoebe Litchfield had a splendid ODI series ahead of T20Is, in which she had scores of 78, 63 and 119. She walked in with Australia in deep trouble at 33 for 4 and from there, played an excellent counter-attacking knock to bring her side back into the game. She showed power are terrific finesse, scoring at a strike rate of 161.1 against the pacers and 142.9 against spin. She brought out the sweep and reverse sweep at will against the spinners, not giving them any time to settle down.
She was exquisite against pacers too. She used the pull against them to good effect, with all her three sixes coming against such deliveries, depositing all of them over the deep square-leg fence. She has proved to be a thorn in India’s flesh this series and the hosts will look to ensure that she does not spoil their party on this tour again.
Brown hands India momentum
With just 141 on the board, Australia would have been hoping to get a couple of quick wickets to tilt the game in their favour. However, Darcie Brown bowled a shocking first over. She was all over the place, allowing India to take 14 extras in the very first over, which included no-ball, wides and leg-byes. That gave India the momentum and from there on, they never looked back.
With Shafali was dropped from the ODIs due to poor form and Mandhana too not in the best of nicks, the Aussies would have hoped to knock them over quickly. However, Australia never really recovered from that poor over, allowing the India openers to take full toll.
Mandhana, Shafali complete chase with minimum fuss
Having a chance to beat Australia in any format by 10 wickets is an opportunity no team would want to let go of. India had a chance to do that, but in the end, they would take a nine-wicket victory. The opening batters Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma led India’s charge after the bowlers did the job. They got a freebie over from Brown first up but from there on, they were clinical in their approach. Alyssa Healy perhaps missed a trick by not introducing spinners in the powerplay. When Ashleigh Gardner came on to bowl right after the powerplay, the batters were set and showed no signs of throwing it away.
Mandhana did not look to match Shafali short for short but instead was happy to bide her time and let her partner do the heavy lifting.
They complemented each other well. When Mandhana struggled, Shafali made up for it and when Shafali was struggling in a particular period, Mandhana helped her partner out.
India will certainly hope that the two batters put on a similar show in the remaining two matches. India have never won a series against Australia at home. Maybe that’s something that can tick off this time around.
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