Australia Women continued their victorious run on their tour of India by defeating India Women by six wickets in the first Twenty20 International of the tri-series, also involving England, at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai.
Replying to India’s 152/5, which they put up after being asked to bat by Australia, the visitors strolled to an easy six-wicket victory, scoring 156/4 with 11 balls spare.
After Jhulan Goswami dismissed Alyssa Healy and Ashleigh Gardner early in the Australian innings, Beth Mooney and Elyse Villani put together a 79-run stand for the third wicket, which effectively took the game away from India.
After Villani returned a catch to Poonam Yadav with Australia still needing 44 runs from 6.5 overs, captain Meg Lanning took it upon herself to finish the chase and remained unbeaten on 35.
However, Lanning batted lower than she usually does, coming in at No.5. After the game, she revealed the move was to get an early hold of the game and improve the balance of the side. “Yeah, a little bit lower than usual (the batting position), but I thought both Ash and Elyse who came in during the Powerplay did a good job and took the game on for us,” she said. “I thought we were able to get ahead of the game early, which was good.
“Just (for) the team balance. We thought that was the best way to go about it. It could be different on another day, and it’s important in T20 cricket, you’ve got to be really flexible.”
Sophie Molineux, the 20-year-old left-arm spinner, made her debut, and although she didn’t pick up wickets, Lanning believed Molineux did a good job of containing the flow of runs. “I thought she did really well,” said Lanning. “She bowled a great over there, and we got a wicket the over after that. In the field too, really good as well. She’s done a lot of hard work to get here, and we’re pumped for her.”
In chasing the 153-run target, Australia equalled their highest successful chase in Twenty20 Internationals, but Lanning believed that with only four fielders allowed outside the 30-yard circle, scores in the shortest format of the game would only shoot up. “With only four fielders out now, I think the scores are only going to lift,” she said. “The wicket out here, the quick outfield, we’re going to see some pretty high scores throughout. It’s exciting, I think everyone’s loving it.”
Meanwhile, India succumbed to their fourth consecutive defeat to Australia in limited-overs cricket, having lost the three-match ODI series 3-0. India welcomed back Goswami, who returned an excellent 3/30, but despite that, the Indian attack couldn’t pose Australia too many problems.
“It was always pleasant to play with her (Goswami), she bowled really well today,” said Harmanpreet Kaur, the India captain. “That’s what we were expecting from her. Other players need to take more responsibility and do well for the team.”
Lauding the efforts of Smriti Mandhana, who top-scored with 67, Kaur said India were 30 runs short of what they had targeted. “When we’re playing a world-class side, we need set a decent total on the board,” she said. “(But) we were already 30 runs short. Smriti played really well. There was some moisture on the wicket, but still, the way she batted, she showed her character. Other batters also need to respond when someone’s doing really well and I think we lacked in that area.”
Veda Krishnamurthy and Anuja Patil revived the Indian innings after the hosts were 100/4 in the 15th over and helped the team scale a 150-plus total. Kaur acknowledged their efforts but called for more support from other batters.
Meg Lanning took @SouthernStars over the line in their six-wicket win against @BCCIWomen in the opening match of the WT20I tri-series #INDvAUS Read the report here ⬇️https://t.co/BC52JUquKG pic.twitter.com/xBv6WuMpCn— ICC (@ICC) March 22, 2018
“After losing two-three wickets in the middle overs, we were still looking for a big total,” said Kaur. “I think Anuja played really well when we needed her to score runs, and Veda responded really well too. This is what we’re looking for from the team, more responsible innings from all players.”
Australia take on England at the same venue on Friday in the second match of the tri-series.