Beth Mooney’s brilliance and India’s sloppy fielding handed Australia 9 wicket victory

In the first T20I of the 5-match series, Australia gave India a thumping as they made light work of India’s first innings score of 172, chasing it with almost three overs to spare.

Beth Mooney's brilliance and India's sloppy fielding handed Australia 9 wicket victory. PC: AusWomenCricket / Twitter
Beth Mooney’s brilliance and India’s sloppy fielding handed Australia 9 wicket victory. PC: AusWomenCricket / Twitter

The match which was held in front of more than 25,000 spectators at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai was India’s first game in the format post the final of the Women’s Asia Cup in which the team went on to lift the trophy. Australia too returned to the format after a while, having last played a T20I back in August during their successful Commonwealth Games campaign.

Australia led by Alyssa Healy won the toss and decided to field first with both teams having debutants in their line-ups. Kim Garth became the 58th player to represent Australia in the format while Anjali Sarvani made her debut for India.

India displayed an aggressive approach at the start with Shafali Verma smashing a six and a four off the first over itself. India got off to a flier but the experienced Ellyse Perry got rid of Verma who was starting to look dangerous. The Indians showed no signs of slowing down as Smriti Mandhana picked up four boundaries off debutant Kim Garth’s first over. Perry was at it again, getting rid of Jemimah Rodrigues who had a forgettable outing, registering a six-ball duck.

Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and her deputy Mandhana tried to consolidate but ended up losing their wickets after getting set. India was in a precarious position at 81-4 at the end of 12 overs following which comeback girl Devika Vaidya held one end while Richa Ghosh played a counter-attacking role. Ghosh went after all the bowler but took a special liking to Alana King’s leg-breaks, smashing her for three consecutive boundaries in the 14th over. The aggression eventually brought about her downfall as she lost her wicket while stepping out for a big heave against Ashleigh Gardner. The finishing touches were applied by Deepti Sharma who simply took over from Ghosh, making 36 runs off just 15 deliveries to lift the hosts’ score to 172-5 at the end of the designated 20 overs.

Australia got off to a cautious start with Mooney also getting a life, courtesy of a dropped catch by Radha Yadav off Renuka Singh’s bowling. At the end of the powerplay, the Aussies were well placed at 47-0 and post that, the runs started to flow with boundaries coming at regular intervals. Vaidya provided India with a breakthrough with Healy falling to a full toss. There was another opportunity for India in the next over but once again, Radha Yadav failed to hold on to the ball, this time giving a lease to Tahlia McGrath. Post that, it was Australia all the way as Mooney and McGrath completed the job on their own. Mooney made her 6th half-century against India in the process and ended unbeaten on 89. The visitors cruised to the target to go 1-0 up in the series.

India were let down by some sloppy fielding, poor bowling, and the dew factor of course. In hindsight, India should have got a few more runs in the first innings, especially with dew playing such a massive part. The two teams will now meet for the second game of the series on December 11 at the same venue. Australia will look to continue its dominance while India will hope to put up a better performance, especially on the bowling front.

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