While India had looked patchy, the Australian Women’s T20I team appeared formidable and were the team to beat in the Women’s T20 Cup.
However, by defeating the Meg Lanning side by 48 runs in the last game of Group B, which ensured that they finished unbeaten in the first stage of the event, the Indian Eves go into the semis with a lot of confidence and momentum.
The win was led by opener Smriti Mandhana, who struck a fluent 83, Harmanpreet Kaur’s 43 – which helped India get to 167 – and the wily spin of Anuja Patil, playing her first game in the tournament. The Aussies were bowled out for just 119 runs.
In the absence of unwell Mithali Raj, Mandhana led India’s charge. Though Taniya Bhatia and Jemimah Rodrigues fell successively, the left-hander kept her end up while striking some classy boundaries in the powerplay overs. The first six overs fetched India 46 runs, as Mandhana raced away to 37 runs in just 22 balls.
She was aptly supported by Harmanpreet, who started off from where she had left off against New Zealand. She raced away to 43 off just 27 balls, with three lofted sixes, and as many boundaries. The crucial partnership meant that the middle-order woes that had come to haunt the Indian side in their last clash against Ireland were eradicated, as India put on a competitive total on the board. The team though was well on course for a score of 180, but Elysse Perry scalped three wickets in the end, which stalled the run-flow, even if just a wee bit.
Australia began the tricky run-chase without wicket-keeper Alyssa Healy, who had collided with Megan Schutt and suffered a concussion in India’s penultimate over. However, Beth Mooney ensured that her absence was hardly missed at the top as she scored 27 in the first 24 deliveries.
But, once India’s spinners got into the fray, all hopes of an Aussie win evaporated as Deepti Sharma, first and then Patil restricted the flow of runs, building pressure in the middle overs. After Deepti had both the openers off consecutive deliveries, the Aussie innings lost the momentum and they could hardly recuperate henceforth.
By the half-way mark, Australia were tottering at 56 for 4, and though Perry fought till the very end, her valiant efforts were not enough to stop a rampaging India to register their fourth win in the tourney.
Brief scores: India 167/8 (Smriti Mandhana 83, Harmanpreet Kaur 43; Ellyse Perry 3-16) beat Australia 119 (Ellyse Perry 39*; Anuja Patil 3-15) by 48 runs.