Tahlia McGrath, Harmanpreet Kaur set up an intriguing finish

Australia are 46 runs ahead with five wickets in hand

Druti Banerjee
New Update

Harmanpreet Kaur celebrates a wicket © Getty

The Test match between India and Australia is poised for an intriguing finish on the final day after the visitors fought back on the back of a solid fifty from Tahlia McGrath at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday (December 24). Harmanpreet Kaur’s twin strikes in the last hour might have given India slight upper hand and Australia are ahead by 46 runs with five wickets in hand.

India resumed at 376 for 7 this morning and added 30 more to their overnight score At start of the day, Pooja Vastrakar hit three fours even as Annabel Sutherland employed short-pitched bowling to her. Eventually the short-ball accounted for Vastrakar and Deepti Sharma dragged one on to the stumps off Kim Garth. Deepti top-scored for India as they were bowled out for 406 leaving a lead of 187 runs.

Trailing by a huge margin, Australia needed to start well and Beth Mooney did exactly that with a number of boundaries to her name. The pitch didn’t play many tricks and the Aussies openers found it easier than their first dig.

However, once again it was a run out that led to India’s first breakthrough. Mooney struck a delivery from Sneh Rana to Richa Ghosh and walked out of the crease and Ghosh seized the opportunity and hit the stumps with a direct throw. Phoebe Litchfield then fell to an ill-advised reverse sweep off Rana.

Post lunch, there seemed to be a change in approach from Australia. The Indian bowlers were striving too hard but weren't getting anything for it. McGrath and Ellyse Perry gave the Indian bowlers a tough time and dug deep at the crease. In this period Australia scored 93 runs in 33 overs with the batters looking solid.

McGrath smashed three consecutive fours off Renuka Singh Thakur’s deliveries to bring up her second fifty of the match. India were looking for answers and even turned to the part-time spin of Jemimah Rodrigues without much effect.

Even though Perry edged one down the leg-side to Yastika Bhatia off Rana, Australia continued to make progress and got the lead with six wickets still in hand as Alyssa Healy gave solid support to McGrath.

With nothing working in her favour, skipper Harmanpreet turned to herself and bowled unchanged for nine overs in an enthralling passage of play. She got McGrath trapped in front of the wicket with her first ball only for the decision to be overturned on DRS. But Harmanpreet had the last laugh and she removed McGrath with a delivery that turned from outside off stump only for the batter to inside edge it onto the stumps.

From there, a lot of close calls and appeals were made with Sutherland surviving one LBW call as Indians opted to not review it. After an exchange between Harmanpreet and Healy over throwing the ball back to the stumps - the batter deflected it for four even as the bowler argued about it, the Australian skipper went for a sweep and was trapped in front.

The day ended with Australia taking their lead to 46 runs but losing five wickets in the process. It remains to be seen how much more the visitors can add to their score on the final day and if they can set India a challenging total to chase.