Summary: 5th T20I – Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana powers India to highest-ever Run-Chase

A spicy contest was up on display when World Champions Australia took on a rather low on confidence Indian team at the Junction Oval in Melbourne as it was a do or die situation for the Indian side having lost to England the previous day by 4 wickets.

Smriti Mandhana in action against Australia. Pic Credits: https://twitter.com/AusWomenCricket
Smriti Mandhana in action against Australia. Pic Credits: https://twitter.com/AusWomenCricket

 

Australia who had the upper hand last time these two sides met at Canberra, were looking a confident unit and were just a win away to make it to the Commonwealth Bank Tri-Series Final.

Just like England the other day, India too won the toss and put a strong Australian batting unit in. The decision reaped great benefits for the visitors as they managed to pick up Alyssa Healy for a duck which is always so crucial for any side given the damage that she can cause in the later stages. Beth Mooney soon followed her partner back in the dressing room scoring 16 off 17 courtesy 3 boundaries. But it was a magnificent effort with the bat by Ashleigh Gardner who scored a mammoth 93 off 57 deliveries which included 11 boundaries and 3 maximums which was also the highest individual score of the tournament. Skipper Meg Lanning who made a comeback into the side supported Gardner at the other end scoring a brisk 37 off 22 with 6 boundaries. Australia ended with 173-5 after their 20 overs which is the highest score of the tournament. Deepti Sharma was the pick of the bowlers with 2-27 in her 4 overs. India had a daunting task at hand to chase it down to remain alive in the series.

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But Shafali Verma had other plans as she came out all guns blazing against a strong Australian bowling unit and scored a quick-fire 49 off 28 with 8 boundaries and a six giving the perfect start to the Indian chase along with Smriti Mandhana who played the supporting role until Shafali was dismissed and later took charge of the proceedings scoring 55 off 48 bringing up her 11th half-century in T20I’s. Jemimah Rodrigues too scored a brisk 30 off 19 before departing and Harmanpreet Kaur with a patient run a ball 20 ensured that India chased the target down with 2 balls to spare and win the game by 7 wickets. The Australian bowlers had no answers to the counter-attack shown by the Indian batters as they toiled hard to no effect. This win meant that it was the joint third-highest successful run chase in T20I’s and the highest successful chase by India in T20I’s.

India won the match against all odds playing some exciting brand of cricket which was refreshing to see after being down and out in the last game against England. This win also means that Australia now faces a do-or-die situation against England tomorrow and if they do manage to win it then the finalists will be decided on the virtue of NRR. Having said that, India after this win will feel a lot more confident irrespective of the outcome of tomorrow’s match as a win against the world champions of this magnitude will surely go a long way in their preparation for the upcoming T20 World Cup starting 21st Feb.

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