Drama finish to an absolute thriller as Australia beat India by 5 wickets to win the Series


Drama finish to an absolute thriller as Australia beat India by 5 wickets to win the Series

Beth Mooney (125*) led Australia to extend their winning streak to 26 matches and took a 2-0 lead in the 3-match ODI series against India. An unbelievable game of cricket left everyone in a state of shock as it had a last-ball finish and an Umpire review to finally conclude the result.

The hosts won the toss again and decided to chase. The Australian Lower batting order kept their nerves and chased down the required 275 runs with 5 wickets in hand. Both teams came up with one change each where India decided to play Rajeshwari Gayakwad in place of Sneh Rana, while Rachael Haynes had to sit out due to injury being replaced by Nicole Carey.

Right from the first ball, when Smriti Mandhana pulled a rising ball to mid-wicket for two, India’s positive outlook was visible. The opening pair of Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma (22) gave a solid start and added 74 on the board in the first 11 overs. Mandhana was free-flowing and kept picking boundaries on every occasion. Shafali, on the other hand, looked a bit tentative with her footwork, till she finally got an inside edge to the stumps in the first over of Sophie Molineux.

With Australia getting an opening into the batting line-up, it was important for India to build on the good start. In the next nine overs from 12th to 20th over, India slowed down substantially to score mere 21 runs and lost two wickets of Mithali Raj (8 of 23) and Yastika Bhatia (3 of 14). Mithali Raj was run out after a yes-no call while Yastika pulled a short ball straight to mid-wicket. Even after an injury to their main spin bowler Georgia Wareham, which let her leave the field without bowling even a single ball, Australia still had 7 bowlers in the side. Molineux bowled a great spell to contain Indian scoring.

Backed by her good fighting 32 in the previous match, Richa Ghosh was promoted to play at No. 5. Doing full justice to the decision, Ghosh played a brilliant knock of 44 runs off 50 deliveries. It was a crucial stage in the match to not lose another wicket and at the same time keep ticking runs. She was seen playing confidently and kept scoring boundaries on loose deliveries coming her way. Anything pitched in her slot was getting the required treatment.

Smriti and Richa had a good partnership of 76 runs. Both batters started to pace up the innings around 28th over of the innings. Walking down the pitch, Smriti hit McGrath for a boundary was a treat to watch. Smriti Mandhanamade 86 off 94 balls reaching her 19th fifty, before slicing the ball to Mooney at point off McGrath. Richa continued the tempo with a four and six in the next over to Brown. McGrath’s good spell continued as she also picked Richa bowled in the 37th over.

At 40 overs, India were 213/5 and hoping their lower batting order supports the start and take to score to 270+. India’s lower batting order was exceptional and ensured not to give away wickets in quick succession. Deepti Sharma continued batted sensibly to reach 23 (34) before she was caught in deep by Perry with McGrath being the wicket-taker again. Pooja Vastrakar had scored a good inning of 57 in the tour match and she continued with the form and scored 29 off 37 balls.

Jhulan Goswami also pitched in with a quick 28 off 25 to take India’s score to 275. McGrath 9 overs 3/45 and Sophie Molineux 8 overs 2/28 were picked by the bowlers. Molineux particularly was spot on and also conceding just 4 in the last over. In the last 25 match winning streak, Australia had to chase 250+ scores only once.

With 275 to chase under lights and expected due, Indian opening bowlers started off exceptionally. Jhulan Goswami went right through Healy’s defence to clean her up on the third ball of the innings. Australia had lost their start batsman without any score on board. From the other end, Megha Singh playing only her second match bowled a big swinging accurate maiden over to captain Meg Lanning. She came back and bowled another maiden to Lanning in the second over. The pressure kept adding as Mooney played a pull to Poonam Yadav that went down. On the very next ball, Meghna got her first wicket to get rid of Lanning with a stunning catch by Gayakwad.

The new batter Ellyse Perry was unlucky to get run out by a brilliant direct hit from Pooja Vastrakar. Accurate bowling continued from both ends as Australia were reduced to 34 for 3 at the end of 10 overs. The Indian camp was doing good and the energy was reflecting in their fielding as well with some good saves in the circle. Mithali Raj went ahead with a long spell of 7 overs with Meghna to get that one important wicket of Beth Mooney but to no success. Rajeshwari and Vastrakar also joined the attack with the tight spell and Pooja picked up Ashleigh Gardner to reduce Australia to 52 for 4 in 16 overs.

Hardly anyone would have imagined at this stage, that this game will bend towards Australia and go down to the wire. However, Tahlia McGrath and Mooney had different plans. McGrath came in and completely changed the complexion of the game. Both batters were getting boundaries easily and kept taking singles and doubles to keep the scoreboard moving. The duo of Poonam Yadav and Deepti Sharma was not able to put any shackles. Indian bowling attack suddenly started to give away few loose balls and fielding too started to witness few fumbles.

In 32nd and 33rd over, both McGrath and Mooney reached their respective 50s. At this stage, the required run rate was above 8 per over, and India was still looking for that breakthrough. Mithali Raj tried to get back her strike bowlers Jhulan Goswami in 29th over and Meghna Singh in 35th over but in vain. In the 39th over finally, Deepti Sharma gave a breakthrough as McGrath played a nothing shot to short fine leg in the hands of Smriti Mandhana. Carey walked in at no. 7 and Mooney was marching steadily on 74 off 100 balls. First ball – almost to the fence. Second ball – Convincing boundary. Carey Scare had arrived in India.

At the end of 40 overs, Australia were 188/5 and needed 87 off the last 10 overs. From then on, Carey and Mooney both went to display an example of a great chase. They kept scoring boundaries on every slightest of opportunity and kept rotating the strike. The Indian bowlers did well to get the required run rate to rise from here and by end of the 45th overs, the target was 46 in 5 overs at a rate of 9.19. Mooney completed her brilliant 100 in 117 balls the next over. With some good overs by Poonam and Deepti, Australia needed 41 off 4, 33 of 3, 23 of 2 and finally 13 off the last over. Mithali Raj turned to her most experience bowler Jhulan Goswami for the last one.

The Last over had almost every bit of drama we can think of. Jhulan didn’t get the first two deliveries right and also sent out a beamer to gift a free hit at that stage. Indian fielding was under pressure and that reflected on the scoreboard. With 2 runs on the 5th ball, it was 3 off the last ball. This one was full toss just above waist height and that went straight to the fielder.

Carey & Mooney thought they lost it, Indian team started celebrating but then a No ball review was taken and we had another ball with Free hit and 2 runs to chase (as the players didn’t cross till the ball was caught). The cool and composed Carey played the full and straight delivery to mid-wicket and ran back for two. Great batting display by both sides but Indian bowling losing the steam in the middle and Australian batters holding on their nerves to take them to the finish line. Australia proved why they are on a 26-match winning streak as India hoping to continue the same performance in the last ODI on Sunday.