Recent Match Report – India (W) vs AUS WMN Only Test 2023/24

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Australia 219 and 233 for 5 (McGrath 73, Perry 45, Harmanpreet 2-23, Rana 2-54) lead India 406 (Deepti 78, Mandhana 74, Rodrigues 73, Ghosh 52, Gardner 4-100, Sutherland 2-41) by 46 runs

After dominating the Test for a good part of two days, India were finally put under the pump, largely through Tahlia McGrath, who scored her second fifty of the Test, and impressive contributions from Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy. However, Harmanpreet Kaur weaved her magic with the ball to pick two wickets late in the day as India had their nose marginally in front at the end of day three in Mumbai.

By the time stumps were called, Australia had reached 233 for 5 in their second innings – effectively 46 for 5 – with a day to go. At the crease were Annabel Sutherland, unbeaten on 12, and Ashleigh Gardner on 7.

Resuming on 376 for 7 in the morning, India added 30 to their overnight score to stretch their lead to 187 before being bowled out 35 minutes into the day. Pooja Vastrakar struck three fours early in the day but fell three short of a maiden Test fifty to Australia’s short-ball plan, caught at deep square-leg, where Kim Garth was halfway in from the rope.

Garth then sneaked through Deepti Sharma‘s bat and pad to finish her stay on 78, before Sutherland cleaned up the innings via another short ball that Renuka Singh could only fend to gully. India, however, did manage to reach their highest Test score against Australia.

Beth Mooney came out on a positive note in the second dig. She got going with two sublime fours off Vastrakar and then crashed Renuka through the covers, and largely looked untroubled. Then came a bit of a brain fade that she would want to forget soon. Mooney pushed a full delivery from Sneh Rana to Richa Ghosh at silly point and, possibly thinking she was out caught, wandered out her crease with her back to the fielder. Ghosh sensed an opportunity and hit the stumps direct to find Mooney well short of her crease.

Phoebe Litchfield then attempted a pre-meditated reverse sweep, misjudged the length of the ball, and was cleaned up by Rana for 18. McGrath and Perry survived a few nervy moments to move to 63 for 2 at lunch, still trailing by 124 runs.

The script, however, changed after lunch. For the first time in the Test, the India bowlers were made to toil. Both McGrath and Perry used their reach well to smother the spin and negate any threat. Perry started the session with a two and a four and then dug in. McGrath had a life on 15 when Rana at first slip failed to take a sharp chance to her left. Apart from that, the duo hardly offered any chances.

Perry and McGrath hung around for 173 balls for their 84-run collaboration before Perry fell almost against the run of play. Rana got a length ball to land on middle and leg, and Perry’s fine tickle was held smartly by wicketkeeper Yastika Bhatia. That was the only blemish in a near-perfect session for Australia in which they scored 93 runs in 33 overs.

There was toil in store for the bowlers in the final session as well. McGrath found an ally in Healy and the duo stood tall for 175 balls, in which they added 66 runs for the fourth wicket. McGrath reached her second fifty of the Test, this time off 119 balls, while Healy curbed her aggression to keep the India bowlers at bay. There were no boundaries hit for 13.3 overs after tea, which also saw McGrath get an lbw decision overturned on review.

McGrath then broke the shackles by smashing Renuka for three successive fours, also taking Australia into the lead. With none of the main bowlers causing much damage, Harmanpreet brought herself into the attack in the 72nd over and things suddenly started to happen.

She almost struck with her very first ball, but DRS came to McGrath’s rescue with the tracker confirming the ball was sliding down leg. Her luck would, however, run out four balls later when she inside-edged a full delivery back onto her leg stump to fall for 73.

India failed to review a decision against Sutherland, but Harmanpreet struck again when she dismissed Healy lbw to a sweep for 32, with the batter wasting a review in the process. On the previous ball, there had been a confrontation between the two when Harmanpreet, having fielded the ball off her own bowling, attempted a direct hit at the striker’s end but Healy was well inside her crease and blocked the throw with her, resulting in four overthrows. Words were exchanged, as India appealed unsuccessfully for obstructing the field, but Harmanpreet had the last laugh.

Sutherland and Gardner then survived 62 balls in which they only added 12 to make sure there was no further damage.

Ashish Pant is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo

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