Much has been talked about the 2020 T20 World Cup Final at the mighty Melbourne Cricket Ground. However, for Australia, it’s all water under the bridge now. Playing with a relatively inexperienced bowling attack in this series, the hosts were not able to slow down the flow of runs even after dismissing India’s hard-hitting openers in the same over. Tayla Valeminck bowled at an impressive speed on her return, but she leaked runs in the power play.
Australian captain Meg Lanning used eight bowlers in the first innings with only Vlaeminck completing her quota of four overs. These bowlers were guilty of providing too much width to Jemimah Rodrigues who scored a flurry of runs. In the absences of Megan Schutt and Jess Jonassen, the Australian bowling unit has looked less intimidating. It was evident from India’s performance with the bat.
Leg spinner Georgia Wareham admitted to missing spots against India’s top order and not being able to adapt quickly against Rodrigues. “As a unit, we missed our spots and errors in general. We will tighten our plans against Mandhana at the top. Against Rodrigues, (again) we missed our spots. We haven’t seen her yet in this series. So, it was a good chance for us to get a look at her and adjust from now.”
Considering the workload management, Australia might opt to rotate the bowlers throughout the remaining two T20Is as they did in the ODI series. Darcie Brown might get the chance in place of Darlington in the second match. Lanning spoke about the need to ease Vlaeminck back into international cricket before the first match. If they decide to rest her for the second match, the 19-year-old Stella Campbell could get the debut cap.
For the tourists, openers followed the message of the captain, Harmanpreet Kaur, by going all guns blazing from the word go. Mandhana and Shafali Verma gave India the perfect start, adding 31 runs in just 3.1 overs. Mandhana looked in fine touch against Sophie Molineux before losing her wicket to Ashleigh Gardner yet again. Verma’s stay at the crease was short, but interesting, as all of her runs came through clearing the boundaries.
India’s change in approach was on display as they looked out for run-scoring opportunities even after losing the three batters inside the powerplay. Rodrigues was the aggressor-in-chief in the middle overs. India made the most of sloppy Australian bowling by going at 8-9 runs per over. The 21-year-old marked her return to the side after missing out in the ODIs and Test, scoring unbeaten 49 runs off just 36 balls. She threaded gaps to perfection and her running between the wickets was equally impressive.
With series at 7-5 in Australia’s favour, India would want to continue the momentum they have gained. If India wins the second T20I they will tie with Australia in the points system and the final match of the series becomes a ‘winners take it all’ match. Will Australia seal the multi-format series in the second T20I or will India push the hosts?
Australia: Meg Lanning (c), Darcie Brown, Maitlan Brown, Stella Campbell, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Georgia Redmayne, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
India: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (VC), Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana, Yastika Bhatia, Shikha Pandey, Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Richa Ghosh (wk), Harleen Deol, Arundhati Reddy, Radha Yadav, Renuka Singh Thakur