Australia 186/5 Mooney 71, Villani 61 Vastrakar 2-28
India 150/5 Rodrigues 50, Patil 38* Schutt 3-31
by 36 runs
India’s losing streak since returning from the South African tour continued after Australia inflicted a 36-run defeat in the T20I tri-series. It also meant that India, the hosts, were knocked out of the competition. England and Australia will now contest the final. Chasing a stiff target of 187 set by Australia, India suffered setbacks early on. Smriti Mandhana (3 from 4 balls), top scorer in the last match against England, departed early this time, a tad unlucky. A slower delivery from Megan Schutt bounced from her pads onto the stumps. Mithali Raj, coming in at number 3 today, was dismissed for a golden duck chasing a wide delivery only to drag it onto the stumps.
Schutt was then brought back after 2 overs, perhaps to switch ends. Perhaps this led her to forget she was on a hat-trick, as revealed during her post-match interview for the Player of the Match award. Nevertheless, she achieved the landmark to become the first Australian to bag a hat-trick in women’s T20Is and only the second Australian in men’s and women’s T20I cricket. Her third victim was Deepti Sharma (2 from 4 balls) who chipped straight to mid-off. The match looked gone then and there in 5 overs. But teenage sensation Jemimah Rodrigues was not to be deterred. She brought up her fifty from 39 balls with some brave batting. She earned praise from the opposite captain Meg Lanning who said “She’s an exciting talent. She comes out and plays without fear, and we know when we’re bowling to her, we know we have to get it right or we’ll be going the journey.”
One of the few positives for India in recent times, Rodrigues reflected “I just need to keep on learning. Even when we do well, my thing was which areas I can get better, because normally when we do well, we forget about everything and get carried away with the victory. When we lose, we realise our mistake better and we get an opportunity to learn from it.” However, even when she was batting India were struggling to keep up, with the required run rate well above 10. Once she departed after chipping to long-off off Delissa Kimmince in over 13, India’s resistance was all but over. At that stage, they needed 105 runs from 42 balls, a mountain to climb.
Harmanpreet Kaur (33 from 30), Anuja Patil (38 from 26) and Pooja Vastrakar (19 from 14) tried their utmost but could not prevent India from being eliminated. Earlier India chose to field first on winning the toss, a nod to the series trend of chasing sides emerging victors. Australia were rocked by twin strikes by Vastrakar. Alyssa Healy (9 from 8), in an attempt to heave over leg-side, only managed a leading edge to mid-off. In her second over, Vastrakar speared in a full delivery and castled Ashleigh Gardner (17 from 10).
Elyse Villani and Beth Mooney then strung together a partnership of 114 for the third wicket. It was also Australia’s highest stand of the series. Once again India were found wanting after making early inroads. Both Mooney and Villani brought up their fifties in the 15th over which fetched 17 runs.
Villani’s innings was finally halted at 61 from 42 balls when she tried to slog sweep Poonam Yadav and failed to get elevation to get caught at deep midwicket. Mooney (71 from 46) was the next to go in the penultimate over. She too was caught at deep midwicket to hand Jhulan Goswami her first wicket of the match. Rodrigues was involved in both the catches, a satisfying match for her personally. Mooney’s and Villani’s match-winning partnership ensured that Australia ended up with a challenging total of 186/5.