India has taken complete control of the one-off Test match at Wankhede Stadium, knocking Australia out for a meek 219 and sprinting to 98 for one at day’s end. Just before the close of the day, Smriti Mandhana (43 not out) and Shafali Verma (40), her opening partner, looked formidable until she was caught leg-before wicket off the fourth ball by left-arm conformist spinner Jess Jonassen.
In a boundary-filled 90-run partnership that reduced the lead to 121 runs, the Indian pair scorched at nearly a run a ball while Australia’s seamers consistently missed their lengths and were treated with contempt. India was cruising along at 64 runs without losing when Ash Gardner’s finger spin came into play in the 10th over. This eventually put an end to the home team’s barnstorming momentum.
Australia’s seamers, which included debutant Lauren Cheatle, erratic Kim Garth, and an unwell Ellyse Perry, let up 77 runs in their 12 overs. On the other hand, just 12 runs were conceded in the seven overs bowled by the spinners Gardner and Jonassen. Earlier this day, Pooja Vastrakar was back at it another time, this time with Australia in her plans after being instrumental in India’s thrilling victory against England the previous week.
In the opening innings of the one-off Test, Australia was bowled out for 219 by the fast-bowling all-rounder, who gave a masterpiece in swing bowling, talking the ball both ways and recording career-best figures of 4 for 53. As India’s remarkable Test bowling display continued, Vastrakar claimed two wickets in each of the opening and second sessions, while Sneh Rana rebounded with three for 56.
Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana responded by putting up 90 runs for the first wicket in 16.4 overs. Six minutes before the play ended, Shafali was out, but India had the better of the first day, concluding the day with 98 for 1 in 19 overs and trailing Australia by 121 runs. Phoebe Litchfield was dismissed for a diamond duck in the opening over, giving Australia, who had won the toss, the worst possible start.
Beth Mooney started walking after tapping Renuka Singh’s delivery to the left of the gully. There was a miscommunication, and Litchfield was nowhere to be seen in the picture. Then Vastrakar gave Elyse Perry a rattling on her middle pole with an in-swinging jaffa. Australia were dismissed to 7 for 2 ten balls through their innings as the ball pitched outside off and veered sharply back in through the void between Perry’s bat and pad.
Mooney found it difficult to both keep low and hoop the ball around. Several times, the ball went past her outside edge, and she also won an umpire’s call when she failed to stop Renuka Singh from dipping from close to the stumps.
But Tahlia McGrath decided to embark on a retaliatory attack. Before tapping past point, she began her innings by sending Vastrakar across the covers twice in two balls. India had an opportunity to further upset Australia, but in the seventh over, McGrath lunged at Renuka and edged heavily, giving Deepti Sharma a difficult opportunity over her head at second slip.
McGrath took advantage of Mooney’s struggles and went on a boundary-pushing binge. The flow of runs was then partially stopped by the introduction of spin. McGrath’s fifty off fifty balls was raised, but she could not go farther than that. The potential 80-run partnership was snapped by Rana, when McGrath flicked the ball to a diving Rajeshwari Gayakwad at short midwicket.
Alyssa Healy got off to a great start, hitting a six over long-on, but Mooney’s luck ran out when she was hit by a stinging Vastrakar bouncer on the last ball of the first session, which she could only parry to first slip as Australia entered lunch at 103 for 4. After the interval, Healy and Annabel Sutherland got off to a solid start. Both batters collected boundaries whenever they had the chance by making excellent use of their feet.
When Healy was finally undone by the sweep, they had scored 40 from 96 balls. Healy attempted to sweep as soon as Deepti changed her stance to around the wicket, but she failed to hit the ball and ended up with a tangled mess of stumps. Sutherland’s tenacious stay was subsequently cut short by a nip-backer from Vastrakar that caught her just in front of the stumps. Australia was reduced to 160 for 7 after she had Ashleigh Gardner poke at an outside away-swinger with the first ball of her following over, and Yastika Bhatia did the rest.
With a little assistance from the DRS, Rana managed to catch up to Alana King, and soon the score was 168 for 8. Australia seemed somehow being crawled to tea at 180 for eight by Jess Jonassen and Kim Garth. After the interval, the spinners tightened up, and although the pair stayed around for 93 balls, they only managed to add 30. Between the 63rd and 70th overs, India stitched six maidens, which helped to remove Jonassen, who was sent back after another DRS reversal.
Despite ball-tracking suggesting that Jonassen’s reverse sweep to a full Deepti ball would have resulted in a smash against the middle stump, she was struck in front. Australia’s innings ended in 77.4 overs when Rana grabbed her third wicket after Garth and Cheatle contributed 21 for the final wicket. The one stumble in an otherwise flawless Indian effort were three catches that Deepti missed in the slips.
Then Mandhana and Shafali emerged and quickly regained their sense of direction. Mandhana opened the innings by cutting Garth for four runs, and Shafali then hit Cheatle for two consecutive cover drives. In just 46 deliveries, India quickly reached fifty runs, despite neither of the early bowlers appearing especially dangerous.
To some extent, Shafali and Mandhana leveraged their luck, with a few outside and inner edges falling safely. On the first day, Shafali was stuck ahead at 40 after missing a straight Jonassen delivery, nearly sending her to stumps. With just one wicket lost, Mandhana and Rana then guided India to a safe finish at the stumps.
Brief Scores: India vs Australia Only Test Day 1
Australia 219 (Tahlia McGrath 50, Beth Mooney 40, Alyssa Healy 38; Pooja Vastrakar 4-53, Sneh Rana 3-56, Deepti Sharma 2-45) lead India Women 98-1 (Smriti Mandhana 43*, Shafali Verma 40) by 121 runs.