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Smriti Mandhana

India register record chase after Gardner heroics

Aus v Ind, T20I Tri-series, 5th match, report

A dynamic batting performance from India's top order facilitated their seven-wicket chase of 174 in the second encounter against Australia in the tri-series.

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This was their highest successful run-chase in women's T20Is, eclipsing the seven-wicket victory against South Africa in Potchefstroom in February 2018 when they scaled the 165-run target with seven balls to spare.

The Indian batting was led expertly by openers Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana, who gave the visitors an explosive start in the chase of a daunting 173/5. Verma was the aggressor in the half-century opening stand, taking on the bowlers right from the first over. She quickly raced away to 49 off just 28 balls in the ninth over and fell just one run short of what could have been her third T20I fifty when Ellyse Perry's brilliance gave Australia their first breakthrough. Her classy knock contained eight fours and a six.

Despite Verma's departure, India barely slowed down. Mandhana combined with Jemimah Rodrigues and shared a quick 37-run partnership before Rodrigues was caught behind on 30 off Megan Schutt. India captain Harmanpreet Kaur kept the scoreboard ticking as India reached 138/2 in 15 overs. With 42 needed in 30 balls and wickets in hand, the equation looked straightforward for the visitors.

Mandhana continued in the same vein and brought up a fine 44-ball fifty in the 18th over. India suffered a minor set-back when Nicola Carey trapped her in front on 55 soon after but newcomer Deepti Sharma (11*) ensured the visitors had nothing to worry about. She smashed a four through backward square leg on the last ball of the penultimate over and went on to hit the winning runs with two balls to spare.

Ashleigh Gardner smashed a 57-ball 93, which included 11 fours and three sixes
Ashleigh Gardner smashed a 57-ball 93, which included 11 fours and three sixes

Earlier, India had asked Australia to bat first and had them on back foot straightaway when Deepti dismissed the dangerous Alyssa Healy for a duck on only the third ball of the innings. Ashleigh Gardner, who walked in at number three took charge as she belted the Indian bowlers all over the park. While Beth Mooney dropped anchor at one end, Gardner continued to play her natural game and scored boundaries in almost every over. 

After Mooney fell in the ninth over for 16, Australia captain Meg Lanning put up a 79-run third-wicket stand to support Gardner's onslaught. Lanning departed in the 16th over for a 22-ball 37 while Gardner fell an agonising seven runs short of a hundred. Australia scored only 23 more runs in the last 3.2 over after her departure.

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