Ellyse Perry’s day out that made the difference

Ellyse Perry gets ready to bowl. © Getty Images

For some time now, Ellyse Perry has been at the fore of most things Australia has accomplished in the recent past and that has resulted in her winning the ICC Cricketer of the Year twice already. She also holds the distinction of being the only Australian to feature in both cricket and football World Cups. She has already been called the “greatest female player we’re ever going to see” by former England captain Charlotte Edwards.

On Sunday (February 2), Perry added more brilliance to her already-impressive CV by single-handedly steering Australia to a four-wicket victory against India in the T20I tri-series at the Manuka Oval in Canberra with allround efforts.

Perry was lethal from the start. She removed Shafali Verma with her very first ball of the match before tormenting young Jemimah Rodrigues later in the over with her sheer pace. She gave away just five runs in her first two overs. Perry was so unplayable, that even Harmanpreet Kaur found it tough going against her.

With just a wicket of Smriti Mandhana in the next 10 overs, Australia’s stand-in captain Rachael Haynes brought her experienced weapon back into the attack in the 13th over and she didn’t disappoint. Knowing that Kaur could play such a shot, Perry pitched it short forcing the Indian captain to play the uppercut only for the ball to be in the safe hands of Nicola Carey at third man, much to the celebration of the Aussie dugout.

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Perry was on the money again the next ball – this time it was Taniya Bhatia. The right-arm pacer pitched it full outside off, forcing the Indian wicketkeeper-batter to go for the drive away from the body, only to slice the ball to Beth Mooney at backward point. Left-handed Deepti Sharma did somehow survive the next couple of deliveries that followed. But she couldn’t last long, becoming her fourth victim of the match and third of the over, getting out in similar fashion to Bhatia.

“I thought we put the screws on (Indian batting) pretty well and didn’t let someone like Harmanpreet (Kaur) get away,” said Perry after the game. “We took wickets at crucial times, even (Smriti) Mandhana’s wicket was crucial. I think it’s just kind of built up with those couple of wickets in succession and when you do that you just hold all the momentum of the batting side and I think that’s why we restricted them to 103.”  

On the final ball of that over – that Arundhati Reddy majestically drove for a boundary – Perry appeared to hobble a touch and there was a scare that she’d done some damage to her knee or ankle. But she brushed it aside, saying, “It was very dramatic, a little bit Hollywood-esque to be honest, just got a bowler’s toe I guess.”

Meanwhile, coming to Perry’s batting heroics, it was a different approach that she took, as opposed to Beth Mooney against England or Ashleigh Gardner (22 off 13 balls) earlier in the innings.

Perry was happy to wait for the bad ball or the one that lacked direction. And when she did get those, she timed them to perfection and sent them to the boundary. She kept the scoreboard ticking and never let the pressure get to the hosts, despite them losing wickets regularly.

“It’s always enjoyable to play at the Manuka Oval,” she beamed. “The match was tough, India bowled really well, especially defending such a low total. The spinners were a bit slower, it was a great challenge to today.”

And yet the way she overcame the spin challenge – especially by striking two telling fours off Radha Yadav that pretty much sealed the game – spoke a lot of her temperament. That Australia could cross over despite Perry getting out on 49 showed their batting-depth.

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“I think we bat pretty deep,” she stated. “We are very I guess blessed with the depth we have, also the left and right combination we have, It’s quite unique. I have never played in a side with so many left-handers. It was great to see Nicola Carey finish the game, it was really cool.”

The tri-series now moves to Melbourne for the next leg and it remains to be seen if Ellyse Perry can hold off her momentum and take it into the T20 World Cup starting at home on February 21.