‘This one’s pretty special’: Aussies pull off a run-chase for the ages to chase down Indian target
Australia have pulled off the second-greatest run chase in the history of women’s one-day internationals, coasting to a six-wicket win over India at Wankhede Stadium.
Rising star Phoebe Litchfield (78 off 89 balls) and established legend Ellyse Perry (75 off 72) set up Australia’s successful pursuit of India’s imposing 8-282 in Mumbai on Thursday (Friday AEDT).
A sparkling Tahlia McGrath (68no off 55 balls) and Beth Mooney (42 off 47) rubber-stamped Australia’s victory with 21 balls to spare to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series and exact some revenge for their first-ever Test loss to India here last week.
The only higher successful chase in women’s ODIs was Australia’s 6-289 to reel in New Zealand at North Sydney Oval in 2012.
The tourists’ reply started disastrously when captain Alyssa Healy fell for a duck off the third ball of the innings, caught spectacularly by a diving Sneh Rana.
Perry came in and immediately took the attack to an Indian attack which lacked bite.
The superstar No.3 was the early aggressor in a 148-run second-wicket union with player of the match Litchfield, who began cautiously before opening her arms.
Perry finally departed, lofting Deepti Sharma to Pooja Vastrakar on the long-off fence, before Litchfield missed a sweep and was bowled by Rana.
“This one (player-of-the-match award) was pretty special, to bat out there with Ellyse,” Litchfield said.
“Pez played her own game, struck down the ground really well and I was struggling at the start.
“But that’s partnership cricket – it ebbs and flows and it was a pleasure to bat out there with her.”
Any hopes of an Indian wicket surge were quelled when McGrath and Mooney put on 88 for the fourth wicket.
Mooney was bowled by Vastrakar with the finish line in sight but McGrath, in the form of her life, went from strength to strength.
After hitting twin half-centuries in the Test, McGrath made it three 50s in seven days before, fittingly, raising victory when she clobbered Rana for her 11th boundary.
Earlier, the middle-order class of Jemimah Rodrigues (82 off 77 balls) and lower-order power of Vastrakar (62no off 46) lifted India to their highest score against Australia in women’s ODIs.
The loss of opener Shafali Verma (1), youngster Richa Ghosh (21) and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (9) had India wobbling at 3-57.
Yastika Bhatia made a breezy 49 before picking out Megan Schutt in the deep off a juicy full toss from a sheepish Georgia Wareham.
India staggered to 7-182 before Rodrigues and Vastrakar combined for a superb 68-run eighth-wicket stand.
Rodrigues, who passed 50 in both of India’s recent historic Test wins over England and Australia, translated her rich red-ball form to the 50-over format with another fine hand.
Rodrigues struggled physically in the hot, humid conditions in her fine knock which ended when she holed out to McGrath but Vastrakar fired late to have India well placed at the halfway stage.
Australia have never lost a bilateral women’s ODI series to India.