It was a marquee clash to kick-start the T20 World Cup proceedings as hosts Australia faced India in the tournament opener at Showground Stadium in Sydney.
In a jam-packed stadium, Australia Women won the toss and elected to bowl first on a pitch, which was conducive to spin bowling. It was an interesting decision from the Australian skipper to field as the wicket was expected to get slower as the match progresses.
Batting first, Indian Women were off to a flier as the opening duo of Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana came all guns blazing to set the platform for a huge total. Aussies, however, came storming back to strike three wickets within six runs to put India straight under the pump.
A much-needed partnership between Deepti Sharma and Jemimah Rodrigues led India’s recovery as the ‘Women in Blue’ crossed the 100-run mark. The opposition bowlers, however, didn’t allow any easy runs as Indians could only manage 132 runs in their 20 overs.
It was a sub-par total despite the slow nature of the wicket. It was crucial for them to inflict some early damage with the ball, if they were eyeing to stay in the hunt in the tournament opener.
Things, however, didn’t go as per plan despite the early wicket of Beth Mooney. Alyssa Healy showed signs of form after witnessing a lean patch in her career in the past few months. Australia were cruising with the match only until the Indian spinners came to halt their progress towards chasing 133.
First Rajeshwari Gayakwad, and then Poonam Yadav, pegged Aussie middle-order to see them reeling fat 82 for 6 at one stage. Poonam Yadav was the chief tormentor as her four wickets broke the back of Australia’s chase in the 2nd innings. Yadav bowled a match-winning spell and was supported well by Gaykwad and Shikha Pandey.
In the end, hosts fell short 17 runs short of the target as they were dismissed for 115 in 19.5 overs. It was an inspiring bowling effort from the Indians to stun tournament favorites in the inaugural match of the Women’s T20 World Cup.
Cover picture credits: Firstpost