With contradictory track records this year, India and Australia are ready to lock horns in down under after 5 years, from Tuesday. While Australia is riding with 24 matches streak, India has lost their back-to-back series against South Africa and England. While India had a remarkable T-20 series victory last tour, India lost their ODI series 1-2. Smriti Mandhana had her first-ever ODI century, Mithali Raj‘s remarkable knock gained a consolidatory victory.

Let’s look at the best ODI innings from the Indian side against Australia:

Harmanpreet Kaur: 171* from 115 balls (20*4, 7*6), 2nd Semi-Final, Derby, Jul 20 2017, ICC Women World Cup 2017 

It was one of those gloomy days of English Summer. India was ready to lock horns against Australia for the 2nd Semi-final of the World Cup. Derby has been the favourite hunting ground for India in that tournament. Out of India’s 5 victories of the group stage, 4 came in Derby in as many matches.

Out of the 6 matches that happened at Derby in WWC, the team batted first had won the matches all the time. So, Mithali Raj had no hesitation to ask Australia field first, once she had won the toss.

Smriti Mandhana (6) continued her poor show for the 6th consecutive match and once again Mithali was forced to come out to bat earlier than she would have expected. Punam Raut and she added 29 runs in 50 balls before off-spinner Ashleigh Gardner got rid of Raut, who made a century against their previous encounter in the group matches. Kaur who was shuffled in the batting order, came out to bat at number 4. After a couple of low scores in the tournament, she started to found herself in the grove and scored a 60 against New Zealand in the last group match which was a must-win game for them.

Though her average against Australia was better than her carrier average, she at the same time was struggling with her injury that occurred in the previous match, facing Hannah Rowe. But back of her mind, she felt that it was her day. A brisk partnership of  66 with skipper Mithali Raj had stabled Indian batting but the run-rate was around 4 at the end of the 25 overs. Kaur sensibly saw off the new ball under overcast conditions before unleashing her wrath. Harmanpreet though completed her half-century in 68 balls.

Harmanpreet Kaur

Harmanpreet Kaur took the side to the finish line. Image: Twitter

After the fall of Mithali Raj, Deepti Sharma came out to bat but it was Harman’s day. The six she hit against Kirsten Beams of a free hit opened the flood gate. A couple of fours against Beams and left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen took her to 90s in no time.

She had a put a valiant dive to save her wicket on her way to a brilliant hundred in the Semi-final after the miscommunication with Deepti Sharma created the palpitation among the Indian fans.

India was 185/3 at the end of the 35th over and she got her 2nd fifty in just 26 balls. Australia threw everything at Kaur and she dealt those with disdain. Ash Gardner who was economical in her 7 overs came to bowl the 36th over. Deepti gave the strike back to Harman after the first ball. And in the next 5 balls, Gardner conceded more runs (22) than she had conceded in her previous 7 overs (20). Two sixes followed by two fours.

While the sixes were hit through the mid-wicket regions, the fours bisected the offside field. The devastated look at Gardner’s face depicted the whole story. Schutt, Villani, Jonassen all were torn apart. Kaur took 17 more balls after her century (0,0,4,6,6,4,4,2,0,4,4,0,6,4,1,4,1) to reach her 150-run mark. India added 96 runs in the last 7 overs out of which 71 came off 25 balls from the blades of Harmanpreet Kaur.

She ended her innings with an unbeaten 171 in 115 balls with a strike rate of close to 150. She became the highest individual scorer for India in World Cup and the highest Individual scorer in knockouts. India finished with a mammoth total of 281, their highest total against Australia where Kaur scored 60% of the runs of her team and 71% of her runs came in boundaries. 

Punam Raut: 106 from 136 (11*4), Group Stage, 23rd Match, Bristol, Jul 12 2017, ICC Women World Cup 2017 

India once again lost Smriti Mandhana very early. As her form went downhill after the first two matches, Mithali Raj and Punam Raut took control of the match. Both of them played a more cautious role at the beginning of the innings.  As the Australian bowlers tried to choke the batting, both of them tried their level best to break the shackle.

They have dots after dots in the middle overs. Jess Jonassen and Kirsten Beams bowled in tandem while Raut tucked the balls for singles and doubles. Though she hit occasional boundaries that didn’t help the run rate to rise. A couple of boundaries against ash Gardner took her to the forties.

Punam Raut

Punam Raut scored a valiant 77. Photo: Reuters

Raut biffed this across the line a much fuller ball by Perry to the wide long-on boundary. She was down on one knee and fetched the slog from outside off. Plenty of muscle as she got under the ball nicely. She competed for her half-century in 74 balls. As Raj tried to accelerate, Raut hit a couple for boundaries against Schutt. Even after Raj’s wicket, Raut struggled to get to the boundaries. A boundary through cover-point against Jonassen in the 44th over took her to 98. In the last ball of the over, she went deep in her crease to clip to the right of midwicket for a single to complete her 2nd ODI hundred.

Raut finally fell to Ellyse Perry after scoring 106 from 136 balls with 11 boundaries. India managed to go past the 225 runs mark. Australia rode on an unbeaten half-century from Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry to win the match by 8 wickets with 29 balls to spare.

Smriti Mandhana: 102 from 109 (11*4), 2nd ODI (D/N), Hobart, Feb 5, Women Championship, 2016

After losing their first match of the series India, opting to bat, lost their opener Thirush Kamini off the very first ball of the match.  17 years old  Mandhana who had scored a brilliant 76 against England in Wormsley then led a recovery along with captain Mithali. This lefty opener took on Holly Ferling at the beginning of the innings. She hit 5 boundaries against her at the beginning of her innings. Picking up a couple of singles against Megan Schutt in the 21st over, she completed her first half-century on Australian soil.

A couple of boundaries against Perry took the Indian tally to 150 runs mark. Both of them batting together for 31 overs to put up a 150-run partnership. Mandhana struck a century, while Raj played the more patient foil, stroking 58 off 98 balls.

Smriti Mandhana

Smriti Mandhana

Once Mithali Raj fell to Perry in the 31st over, Smriti once again joined hand with Harmanpreet Kaur. But that did not stop Mandhana’s ability to rotate strike. A couple against Rene Farrell in the 40th over took her to the first century in the ODI century. Before getting out to Schutt, she scored 102 from 109 balls with 11 boundaries.

However, a flurry of wickets towards the end halted India’s charge, as, despite a 33-run blast from Shikha Pandey, the visitors could only manage a total of 8 for 252. Ellyse Perry was the pick of Australia’s bowlers, collecting 3 for 54. Australia won the match by 6 wickets with 20 balls to spare.

Jaya Sharma: 104* from 140 balls (15*4) 3rd Match, Chennai, Feb 23 2007

Jaya Sharma’s unbeaten century, which was a judicious blend of defence and attack, carried India to their second successive win in the Quadrangular tournament in Chennai. Defending a total of 213, Australia fought hard to defend their modest target and had India in early trouble at 63 for 3, but Sharma steadied the innings with a 56-run partnership with Hemlata Kala and provided the calming influence at the end.

Sharma began slow and eliminated any risk from her batting especially after the fall of Karuna Jain (21) in the ninth over and then Mithali Raj (0) in the 13th.  At 37 for 2 Anjum Chopra joined in and it looked like a partnership between the two left-handers, would keep India in the game. But Anjum was run out when she failed to make the crease at the non-striker’s end after Sharma had hit a shot straight to Alex Blackwell at midwicket. Blackwell threw down the stumps and India’s chase looked highly tentative.

Jaya Sharma

Jaya Sharma

By the time Kala joined Sharma, the spinners – Sthalekar and Shelley Nitschke – had been brought in and the two upped the run-rate working off singles and hitting fours all over the field. Sharma went down on her knee and heaved Sthalekar’s short-pitched offbreak for a four to midwicket. In the next over she pulled another to the boundary off Pike. Dropped twice in her innings – once by Rolton when she was at eight and by Blackwell at 42, Sharma gave the Australians much anguish driving and pulling fours.

A couple of boundaries in the 2nd over of Shelley Nitschke took her to a 78 ball half-century. After the fall of Kala, India needed 95 from 114 balls. Dhar came to the crease and fired off a quick 22 off 23 balls and at the fall of her wicket – trapped lbw to Pike – India needed 63 to win from 78 balls. While Dhar took the attacking mood, Sharma nudged the ball here and there to rotate the strike. Amita Sharma got out after hitting back to back boundaries to Cathryn Fitzpatrick.

Sharma approached the 90s with a savage pull off Pike to the square leg boundary. She slowed down considerably after she reached 90 taking another 48 balls to get to her century. Two wickets fell in a short space of time as India were close to victory but fittingly Sharma ended the agony with a four off Fitzpatrick and India won with an over to spare. Her unbeaten 104 was constructed with 15 boundaries.

Mithali Raj 89 from 113 (12*4), 3rd ODI (D/N),  Hobart, Feb 7 2016, Women Championship

After Smriti Mandhana’s century went in vain in the 2nd ODI, Mithali Raj was the architect of India’s consolation win in the third and final ODI.

Sikha Pandey’ 3/50 restricted Australia 231 after they won the toss to bat first. Ellyse Perry and Alex Blackwell were instrumental with 50 and 60 respectively. India started off well. They put up 36 before Veda Krishnamurthy fell to Perry. Smriti Mandhana and Mithali Raj then once again engaged themselves to repair the innings. Smriti Mandhana scored a brilliant 55 and added 58 runs for the 2nd wicket.

Mithali Raj

Mithali Raj

When Raj and Mandhana were batting, Mandhana was played much more aggressively. After her fall, Mithali took on the Australian bowling. After completing her half-century from 82 balls, Mithali Raj hit three boundaries against Jess Jonassen. India were driven by a succession of partnerships. Raj’s stands of 58 and 71 with Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur (22) respectively help allay fears of a middle-order meltdown.

After a couple of quiet overs, Kaur fell to Perry. Raj reciprocated with a couple of boundaries against Ferling. Raj was on her way to a sixth ODI century but was run out for 89. But by then, she had taken India to within 35 runs of the target, which was polished off by Pandey, Punam Raut and Jhulan Goswami to claim a remarkable victory. Raj’s 89 came from 113 balls with 12 boundaries.

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