In the opening T20I in Navi Mumbai, India defeated Australia by nine wickets, establishing a 1-0 lead in the three-match series and unearthing new talent, Titas Sadhu who was adjudged the Player of the Match.
Australia was reduced to 141 all out thanks to a remarkable 17 for 4 from young debutant Titas Sadhu before Shafali Verma (64*) and Smriti Mandhana (54) orchestrated a brilliant chase at the DY Patil Stadium. India’s eviction of Australia with 14 balls left was even more decisive than their 3-0 rout of them in the one-day series.
India won the toss and chose to bowl first to welcome Beth Mooney and Alyssa Healy faced the heat of the Renuka Singh-led attack with the ball. Australia got to 26/0 in three overs, off to a great start thanks to Beth Mooney’s clean strikes. But Titas came into the attack at that point, setting off a chain reaction that cost the visitors four wickets at a cost of just five runs.
While Tahlia McGrath and Ash Gardner edged deliveries that darted away, Mooney was tricked by a leg cutter. With the new ball, the spell was incredible. Her strike was so precise and disciplined that the Australians were never able to recover.
Australia rallied from 33/4 after the powerplay, led by the always-reliable Ellyse Perry and the form-fit Phoebe Litchfield, who put on 79 runs for the fifth wicket. Litchfield was the aggressor and made some amazing strokes in her 32-ball 49. Three days prior, she had scored a century in the third ODI. However, Australia’s collapse continued when she got dismissed in the 15th over, losing their next six wickets for 29 runs.
Other important contributors for India were off-spinners Deepti Sharma and Shreyanka Patil. But there wasn’t much of a change in fielding from the ODI series. Though there were several misfields and three dropped catches by other players, skipper Kaur did a commendable job of holding onto her four regulation catches.
.@JemiRodrigues with the winning runs! 😃🙌#TeamIndia win the 1st T20I by 9 wickets and take a 1⃣-0⃣ lead in the series 👏👏— BCCI Women (@BCCIWomen) January 5, 2024
Scorecard ▶️ https://t.co/rNWyVNHrmk#INDvAUS | @IDFCFIRSTBank pic.twitter.com/LAVr1uo3Yl
India’s openers in the chase didn’t give Australia a hint and were relentless from the outset. After a nervous start, Shafali—who was benched for the last two ODIs—showed just how lethal she can be. With a 137-run stand for the first wicket, the left-right combination almost cost Australia their simple second 10-wicket loss in Twenty20 Internationals.
Verma was given an escape twice, the first coming from a sitter on 51 and the second from a challenging catch on 61, but apart from that, she and Mandhana were brilliant as they amassed a 137-run stand for the first wicket, the most by any side against Australia and the second-best by any Indian duo.
Verma was forceful and impressive right on, while Mandhana needed 12 balls to get off the mark before she could get going. An inaccurate Darcie Brown gave up 14 runs in the first over, all extras, giving India a huge advantage in their rebuttal.
While Tahlia McGrath later let up 24 from her second over, including seven wides, Australia looked even more ridiculous. The lone happy moment for Australia in the field came when Mandhana attempted to hit a six to complete the five runs required for victory, only to have McGrath sensationally grabbed her high and one-handed off her slog-sweep off leg-spinner Georgia Wareham on the long-on rope.
Smriti had shown signs of her best and one could anticipate a big innings from her around the corner, even though she was unable to convert her breakthroughs in the ODI series. She was in total control this time, hitting seven fours and a six in her 52-ball 54.
But Shafali’s comeback to form was India’s greater gain. With her cool shot selection and strong strokeplay, the 19-year-old kept India abreast of the asking rate throughout the match. With six fours and three sixes in her 66 runs off 44 balls, she made sure she didn’t lose to finish the match with Jemimah Rodrigues.
Brief Scores: India vs Australia
Australia 141 in 19.2 overs (Litchfield 49; Sadhu 4-17) lost to India 145/1 in 17.4 overs (Shafali 64*, Mandhana 54) by 9 wickets.