With more than 47,000 spectators as witnesses, India pulled off a stunning win to end Australia’s 11-match winning streak and to level the five-match T20I series 1-1 on Sunday.
Chasing 188, the Indian innings had a few hiccups towards the end but the Women in Blue managed to tie the scores, sending the game into a super over, India Women’s first ever.
There was no dearth of cheers and support for the home side as Smriti Mandhana guided India to 20-1 in the Super Over, hitting debutant Heather Graham for a four and a six. Renuka Thakur then restricted Australia to 16-1.
LESSONS LEARNED FROM OPENER?
After a humiliating defeat in the series opener, India, while fielding the same playing XI, made a number of changes to its approach. Having won the toss this time, India opted to field.
Barring Deepti Sharma, none of the bowlers could make an impact and despite captain Alyssa Healy (25 off 15) being caught early on, Mooney and McGrath took the Indian bowlers to the cleaners.
Mooney (82 not out off 54) and McGrath (70 not out off 51) forged an unbeaten 158-run stand off 99 balls for their second successive 100-plus stand. This was also the highest-ever partnership for Australia for any wicket in Women’s T20s.
When Healy was at the crease, Mooney started off slowly, but upped her tempo when McGrath walked in. They found the gaps with precision and hammered boundaries at will, scoring 53 runs off the last five overs.
With a challenging chase of 188 before them, the Indians showed intent from the word go.
Smriti started off perfectly, hitting Kim Garth for three fours in her first over and went on to forge an opening partnership of 76 with Shafali Verma. While Shafali initially took time to settle in, Smriti accelerated with a flurry of boundaries. In the fifth over, bowled by Ellyse Perry, Shafali, too, joined in, with two consecutive boundaries before being given a lifeline by Megan Schutt at deep cover.
Making the most of the reprieve, the openers guided India to 74-0 in eight overs, before Shafali was caught by McGrath off Alana King’s length ball around off.
The momentum lost, India soon lost its second wicket as Jemimah Rodrigues once again failed to get going and was trapped leg before by Graham.
Two wickets down for 81, India needed to regroup. Smriti was joined by captain Harmanpreet Kaur. She started off with a boundary and a six off Ashleigh Gardner, while Smriti ensured that there was no let-up.
AUSTRALIA’S FIRST LOSS OF THE CALENDAR YEAR
Smriti brought up yet another half century, hitting King for a six and a four in the 13th over to reach the mark. With a win just 46 runs away, India eyed its leadership core to see them through but Graham broke the partnership when Harman slog swept and offered a catch to Mooney.
To add to India’s woes, Sutherland removed Smriti in the very next over, making things tricky for India with 32 still needed from 18 deliveries. However, Richa Ghosh stepped up and hammered three quick sixes to put the pressure back on the Australians.
India needed 14 runs in the final over. With Richa and Devika Vaidya around, the equations changed quickly and it went down to the wire with five needed from one ball. Devika found the boundary off the last ball from Schutt to take the game to the Super Over.
India handed Australia its first loss of 2022 and ended its 11-match unbeaten run in the format.