Australia cruise to series win as Team India extends unwanted record | Crickit

Australia cruise to series win as Harmanpreet Kaur's Team India extends unwanted record in T20Is

Jan 09, 2024 10:38 PM IST

Not since 2011 had India won the deciding match of a T20I series against any team and the visitors made sure to extend that streak.

Since the start of their tour about three weeks earlier, a number of Australian players had spoken about how India have been closing the gap on them in recent years. Harmanpreet Kaur and Co lived up to the hype by dominating the one-off Test, before bouncing back from the ODI series defeat to win the first T20I. But at the DY Patil Stadium here on Tuesday, in what was the last match of Australia’s tour and the decider of the T20I series, India couldn’t quite run the six-time world champions close.

Australia's Annabel Sutherland with teammates, celebrates the wicket of India's Harmanpreet Kaur (PTI)
Australia's Annabel Sutherland with teammates, celebrates the wicket of India's Harmanpreet Kaur (PTI)

Not since 2011 had India won the deciding match of a T20I series against any team. In the four previous bilateral T20I series against Australia, they had emerged victorious on just one occasion. The stage was set with over 43,000 spectators in attendance, but India couldn’t manage to turn the tide.

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Asked to bat first, the hosts managed to post a below-par total of 147/6 after a fine spell of 2/12 by all-rounder Annabel Sutherland. In reply, the visitors rode on an 85-run opening partnership between skipper Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney to finish with 149/3 in 18.4 overs and complete and emphatic win. For India, it was a timid end to an action-packed month of cricket that had several highs.

Shafali Verma gave India a promising start after both teams decided to go in unchanged. The 19-year-old, who scored the most runs (64*) across both teams in the first T20I and the least (1) in the second, hit six fours to race to 26 before attempting a slog and getting caught-behind off Megan Schutt’s bowling.

Her opening partner Smriti Mandhana kept up the tempo from there and played some classy shots to get to 29. But for the seventh time in 12 innings across formats during this home season for India, the left-hander squandered her start. From 60/1 in the eighth over, India lost three wickets for just six runs as Jemimah Rodrigues and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur followed Smriti back to the hut.

In what has been a wretched run with the bat for Harmanpreet, she got her sixth consecutive single-digit score. The right-hander’s lack of confidence was unmissable as she played-on an over-pitched slower ball by Sutherland.

It came down to a counterattack by Richa Ghosh and late contributions from Amanjot Kaur and Pooja Vastrakar to take India to a competitive total. Richa continued to impress and took on the Aussie bowlers to hit three sixes and two fours in her 28-ball 34. Amanjot, who hadn’t registered a double-digit score in her last three innings, remained unbeaten on 17 off 14 balls, before Pooja closed out the innings with a six.

With the series up for grabs, most teams would’ve felt at least a hint of nerves at the start of the chase. But Australia is no ordinary team. The reigning world champions in both white-ball formats remained true to their style and attacked India’s bowlers from start to finish.

It’s no secret that Healy and Mooney are big-game players. The right-left pair had starred with the bat for Australia in the 2020 T20 World Cup final against India, with Mooney also top-scoring for her team in the 2022 Commonwealth Games final against Harmanpreet’s side.

Neither Healy nor Mooney had scored big in the first two T20Is but they were in command in the decider. Healy was the aggressor at the start and went after pacers Titas Sadhu and Renuka Singh Thakur in the powerplay. The right-hander hit nine fours and a six to bring up her 16th half-century in the format. Whereas Mooney, who began her innings with a boundary, focussed more on rotating the strike and remained solid even after Healy was trapped in front by Deepti Sharma in the 10th over.

Australia faced a bit of a hiccup when Pooja dismissed Tahlia McGrath and Ellyse Perry off consecutive deliveries, but the in-form Phoebe Litchfield came out all guns blazing and added an unbeaten 32-run stand with Mooney to get the job done.

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