Beth Mooney keeps Australia’s winning streak intact with incredible win
If your time to you is worth savin’
And you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’
When Bob Dylan wrote these lyrics of “The Times They Are A-Changin’” back in the 1960s, he was certainly not thinking about the Australian cricket team from 2021. After a lackluster performance against relatively depleted Australia, with the series on the line, India fastened their seat-belts and arrived at the Great Barrier Reef Arena in Mackay on Friday (September 24) to give a worthy fight to the hosts. But at the end of the night, it was Beth Mooney’s unbeaten century that took Australia home to their 26th win on the trot.
Meg Lanning invited India to bat on the brand new pitch and Smriti Mandhana opened her account with two boundaries against young quick Darcie Brown. Shafali Verma from the other end crunched Ellyse Perry for a cover drive to show her intentions early on. Perry continued to be wayward in this match as well struggling to adjust her line against the left-hand-right-hand combo. At the same time, India were able to score runs off Brown, who dismissed both Mandhana and Verma in the first match of the series.
Mandhana and Verma responded to the captain’s call and put a partnership of 50 runs in just the eighth over. The introduction of Ashleigh Gardner’s off-spin in the 9th over could not stop the flow of runs as India amassed 68 runs by the end of the power play. Australian bowling looked toothless before Lanning introduced the left-arm spin of Sophie Molineux. She provided the hosts with the breakthrough they desperately needed Verma played one onto the stumps.
Mithali Raj could not continue her form with the bat and she was run-out at the non-striker’s end. Yastika Bhatia lasted only 15 balls and was dismissed by Brown. Instead of their regular number five Deepti Sharma, India made a tactical decision to promote Richa Ghosh. Playing in her second ODI, Ghosh did not just support Mandhana but also kept the scoreboard ticking, which was missing in the middle overs for India in recent times. Tahlia McGrath managed to dismiss Mandhana as she sliced one to point when she was on 86 when century seemed inevitable.
India finished with 274 at the end of the innings – the highest first innings score by a team against Australia since the final ODI of the 2017 Ashes series – due to some late hitting by Pooja Vastrakar and veteran Jhulan Goswami. Australia missed their death bowling specialist Megan Schutt as they could only take only two wickets and conceded 61 runs in the final 10 overs.
In reply, Australia were rocked early when Alyssa Healy was send back for a duck by Goswami with a beautiful delivery that took the top off the middle stump. Lanning walked in to face the Goswami, who with Meghna Singh put a pace bowling masterclass in the power play. A short delivery got better of Lanning as Rajeshwari Gayakwad took an excellent catch at deep square-leg.
Mooney, opening in place of Rachael Haynes, held one end up but Australia lost Ellyse Perry courtesy of a direct hit from Vastrakar. Chasing their 26th win in a row, Australia were stumbling at 34 for three at the end of the power play. Gardner’s wicket in the 16th over – Vastrakar’s first ODI wicket, dented their plans further.
McGrath, who was batting in the ODI format for the first time since October 2020, steadied the ship for Mooney. McGrath reached fifty in 57 balls whereas Mooney took her time to reach the milestone from 81 balls. The pair kept the scoreboard ticking and added Australia’s third 100 run partnership of the series. With 97 runs needed from the final 11 overs, McGrath lost her concentration and was caught at short fine-leg by Bhatia off Deepti Sharma.
Enter Nicola Carey, who has batted for only nine times in her international ODI career which started with Australia’s winning streak back in 2018, and she started with a back-foot drive against Sharma. The southpaw showed her intent right away. Mooney and Carey took Vastrakar to the cleaners in the 42nd over as they added 13 vital runs. When Mooney brought up her second ODI century from 117 balls, Australia needed 41 runs from the last five overs.
Mooney and Carey took 10 runs from Gayakwad’s penultimate leaving Australia to get 13 runs from the final over. India chose to bring back Goswami to bowl the final over. After getting hit on the helmet with the third ball of the final over, Carey could not find the boundary in the free hit. With three runs to win from the final ball, Goswami’s full toss was declared as a no-ball by the third umpire ensuing in some drama. With the hosts needing two runs in the final ball, Carey clipped it to the mid-wicket and ran hard to complete the second to take them home to an incredible win.
Dylan mentions the generational fact before the end of the song as he says, “Your old road is rapidly agin‘”. Four players from this playing XI are in their late 20s or early 30s, but the younger generation ensured that no one could end Australia’s winning streak at the moment.
Brief Scores: India 274/7 in 50 overs (Smriti Mandhana 86, Richa Ghosh 44; Tahlia McGrath 3/45) lost to Australia 275/5 in 50 overs (Beth Mooney 125*, Tahlia McGrath 74; Meghna Singh 1/38) by five wickets POTM: Beth Mooney.