Richa Ghosh’s career-best 96 and Deepti Sharma’s 5/38 went in vain as Australia Women clinched a thrilling three-run win to take an unassailable 2-0 lead against India in their three-match ODI series in Mumbai on Saturday. Chasing 259, Ghosh led India’s reply with a fine 117-ball 96 featuring 13 fours but the hosts stuttered in the death overs to suffer their ninth consecutive defeat to Australia at home. India managed 255/8 in their 50 overs with Deepti (24 not out off 36 balls, 1x4s) and Shreyanka Patil (5 not out) at the crease when the match came to an end.
Apart from Ghosh’s heroics with the bat, India also had their vice-captain Smriti Mandhana providing early fireworks with a 38-ball 34 (3x4s, 1x6s).
Jemimah Rodrigues (44 off 55 balls) and Ghosh laid the foundation with an 88-run third wicket stand but could not deny Australia from maintaining their record in India of never losing a series.
In a contest wherein both teams dropped more than 10 catches combined, Litchfield eventually made the difference with two sharp catches after dropping one early on, which followed a fine knock of 63 in the first innings to top-score for her side.
Positioned at cover, Litchfield helped break the third-wicket stand to dismiss Rodrigues off Georgia Wareham (2/39) at a crucial juncture in the 34th over.
Later on, when Ghosh was one stroke away from her maiden ton, Litchfield pulled off another superb grab at cover off Annabel Sutherland (3/47) to deny her the feat and in effect, India a win.
Having kept wickets for all 50 overs of Australia’s first innings, the 20-year-old Ghosh batted with gusto and tremendous application, with her stupendous knock featuring strokes in all parts of the ground.
Ghosh also capitalised on two lifelines – one of which she got on the first delivery itself when Litchfield put down a tough chance at first slip soon after Yastika Bhatia (19) was dismissed.
Ghosh kept India in hunt with her partnership with Rodrigues, but Australia capitalised after finding a breakthrough. India’s hopes suffered a serious dent when Ghosh, who was cramping up in the later stages of her innings, fell in the 44th over and Amanjot Kaur (4) in the 46th.
With Deepti failing to get a move-on – she had contributed only eight runs in her 47-run stand with Ghosh – the task became even more challenging for the likes of Pooja Vastrakar (8) and concussion substitute Harleen Deol (1), who had replaced Sneh Rana for the remainder of the game in the second half.
Earlier, off-spinner Deepti Sharma stymied Australia’s surge with a stellar five-wicket haul but seven dropped catches by India allowed them to post a challenging 258 for eight.
Deepti exploited a dry and turning surface to a fine degree to return with figures of five for 38, but her hard work was undone by the hosts’ horrendous fielding.
She accounted for Ellyse Perry (50), Beth Mooney (10), Tahlia McGrath (24), Georgia Wareham (22) and Annabel Sutherland (23) for her career’s second five-for.
Alana King, who was dropped once each by Deepti and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, hammered three sixes to make an unbeaten 28 (17 balls) in a late surge to take Australia past the 250-run mark, which at one stage looked beyond the visitors.
Australia looked in complete command until the 22nd over, powering to 117 for one through a 77-run stand for the second wicket between Perry and Litchfield (63, 98 balls, 6x4s).
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