Under the scorching sun in Brisbane, and on the back of a wonderful half-century from Erin Burns, Australia A registered a nervy three-wicket win over India A in the third and final one-day match at the Allan Border Field in Brisbane to seal the series 2-1, on Monday (December 16). Burns’ innings came after Molly Strano’s splendid spell helped restrict India A to a total of 176 for 9.
Walking in with her team in the middle of a wobble, the 31-year-old produced a match-defining innings for the second game in a row, shepherding the lower-middle order to take Australia A home in 39.3 overs.
In pursuit of 177, the hosts were rocked early, when Anuja Patil dismissed skipper Tahlia McGrath in the fourth over of the innings. Fresh off a century in the second one-day match, Georgia Redmayne continued to milk the bowling, and put on a useful 47-run partnership with Bridget Patterson for the second wicket.
With Australia A sitting pretty at 57 for 1 in the 13th over, Hemalatha Dayalan made her presence felt. Once Tanuja Kanwer had sent back Patterson for 21, the off-spinner removed Heather Graham (0) to reduce the hosts to 59 for 3. Soon enough Redmayne was run out for 41 by Veda Krishnamurthy, before Hemalatha’s double strike— Annabel Sutherland (19) and Tahlia Wilson (0)— had Australia A in a spot of bother at 92 for 6. All of a sudden the tables seemed to have turned— India were in the ascendency.
It was then that Burns came to the fore. First, the right-hander, strung together a useful 27-run partnership with Amanda-Jade Wellington, before joining hands with Molly Strano for an unconquered 58-run eighth-wicket association.
With India choosing to stick with their spinners for all but six overs of the game, the pair of Burns and Strano rotated the strike, knocking the ball around for ones and twos and finding the boundary on the odd occasion. While the trio of Devika Vaidya, Hemalatha and Kanwer were able to largely keep the run-flow in control, both Patil (in her second spell) and Tanusree Sarkar— who came is as a concussion substitute for Arundhati Reddy, who was hit on the head while batting— let the game slip. The pair conceded a combined total of 54 runs in their 9 overs.
As Burns and Strano gained in confidence, they expanded their range, striking six fours and one six between them. Burns brought up her half-century off just 46 balls with a mighty blow off Hemalatha, before knocking a single to the leg-side to seal the series. At the other end, Strano remained unbeaten on 22 off 37 deliveries.
Earlier in the day, having opted to bat, India A were rattled early. Having started the series with scores of 124 and 46 at a strike rate of 149.12 in the first two matches, Shafali Verma registered her first duck of the tour. Strano, who took the new ball for the first time in the series, dismissed the 15-year-old, for the third time in three games— this time, sending her back for a second-ball duck. Nuzhat Parween, the wicket-keeper, followed the same fate as Verma, and within the first 10 deliveries of the match, India A were tottering at 0 for 2.
Things only became worse after the introduction of Sutherland and McGrath, who combined to further reduce the visitors to 35 for 4— three of the four batters failing to open their account.
Krishnamurthy and Hemalatha attempted to steady the ship with a 41-run stand, but just when it seemed like the latter had played herself in, she fell to Graham for 20. Barely five overs later, Krishnamurthy too had to walk back— caught behind of Sutherland— her fighting 35 leading India to 95 for 6 in 29.4 overs.
Once Patil was dismissed for an enterprising 14, the visitors found themselves at 123 for 7 with 11.5 overs still left in the innings, and a real possibility of being bowled out well within that mark. However, in the company of Manali Dakshini, Reddy answered India A’s call. The allrounder rallied the lower order, battled the heat, and a blow to the helmet, to compile a 70-ball 45, including two fours and a six, before she was dismissed in the 49th over. Her 50-run stand with Manali (23 not out) helped India A to some sort of respectability at 176 for 9.
For Australia A, Strano finished with wonderful figures of 3 for 26, while Sutherland and McGrath both picked up two wickets each.
Brief Scores: India A 176/9 in 50 overs (Arundhati Reddy 45, Veda Krishnamurthy 35; Molly Strano 3-26, Annabel Sutherland 2-33) lost to Australia A 177/7 in 39.3 overs (Erin Burns 53*, Georgia Redmayne 41; Hemalatha Dayalan 3-35, Tanuja Kanwer 2-29) by three wickets. PoM: Molly Strano.