Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur’s (2/23) golden arm came to India Women’s rescue with two late wickets as the hosts endured a challenging outing in the one-off Test in Mumbai on Saturday, with Australia leading by 46 runs at stumps on the third day. Kaur brought herself on in the third session after India tried almost every trick in their arsenal with the ball but failed to make inroads, as a resolute Australian side overhauled the hosts’ 187-run lead in the first innings with consummate ease.
Kaur cleaned up Tahlia McGrath (73 from 177 balls, 10 fours) who hit a second consecutive fifty in the Test and snaffled the dangerous Alyssa Healy (32) after a sudden burst of aggression.
Before dismissing her counterpart, Kaur fired a sharp return throw at Healy, who took an evasive action and the ball raced to the ropes as it deflected off the Australian skipper’s bat.
Kaur appealed against Healy for obstructing the field which was rejected by on field umpires Anil Chaudhary and N Janani.
On the next ball, Kaur had Healy out leg-before while attempting to sweep.
Annabel Sutherland (12) and Ashleigh Gardner (7) were at the crease at stumps with Australia reaching 233/5 in second innings.
It was Australia all the way on third day with their seamers unleashing a short-ball attack on the Indian tail, which folded in a little over half an hour into the day’s play with 30 runs added for the loss of last three wickets.
Sutherland (2/41) was Australia’s primary weapon as she claimed two wickets in the form of overnight batter Pooja Vastrakar (47) and Renuka Singh (8), while Kim Garth accounted for Deepti Sharma (78) but not before the Indians reset a couple of records.
India’s first-innings total of 406 is now their highest ever in Test cricket against Australia.
A 122-run stand for the eighth wicket between Deepti and Vastrakar is India’s highest in the format and second best for any side in the world.
Deepti was India’s top-scorer with 78 from 171 balls with nine fours while Vastrakar missed her maiden fifty by a narrow margin of three runs.
With 187 in deficit, Australia openers Beth Mooney and Phoebe Litchfield began well but both were guilty of throwing away their starts.
Richa Ghosh deserved full credit for running out Mooney for 33 (37 balls, 7 fours) after the batter carelessly ventured out of her crease after defending a delivery from Sneh Rana (2/54).
Ghosh, positioned at silly point, hurled the ball back at the wickets while Mooney seemed to have lacked awareness of getting back into the crease.
Litchfield (18) was cleaned up by Rana when the batter attempted a reverse sweep but missed connecting completely.
Australia star Ellyse Perry looked set for a big score as she batted in a commanding manner in the second session for her 91-ball 45 with five fours, putting on 84 for the third wicket with Tahlia McGrath.
But India wicketkeeper Yastika Bhatia was sharp enough to follow a delivery from Rana which kept drifting down the leg, collecting a faint edge off Perry’s bat.
McGrath had some luck on the way to a fine fifty as Rana, standing at wide first slip, had an outside edge off Rajeshwari Gayakwad passing under her hands.
On 52, McGrath had luck favouring her again when she was adjudged leg-before on Kaur’s first delivery which she got overturned.
But a few deliveries later, the Indian captain got the breakthrough when an inside edge off McGrath’s bat trickled onto the wickets much to the dismay of the batter who had prodded forward totally while presenting the full face of the bat.
With the pitch not breaking down to assist spin as much as it was anticipated, it was vital for the Indian bowlers and fielders to work collectively but luck also did not favour them.
Rajeshwari Gayakwad toiled for 27 wicket-less overs but she did not press on for a DRS review when Sutherland was pinned in front of the wickets.
Gayakwad also had Healy dropped twice by Jemimah Rodrigues on consecutive deliveries at silly point despite the fielder standing slightly deeper.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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