India's middle order collapses, hands Australia the title

S Sudarshanan
New Update
India's middle order collapses, hands Australia the title

Beth Mooney in action for Australia. © Getty Images

A middle order collapse, where India lost seven wickets for just 29 runs, saw the match turn on its head as Australia beat India by 11 runs to clinch the T20 Tri Series title at the Junction Oval in Melbourne on Wednesday (February 12).

Much was expected from the pair of Shafali Verma and Smriti Mandhana after their exploits against Australia in the previous clash. The former began in right earnest, hitting a four and a six off Ellyse Perry in the very first over. But Tayla Vlaeminck’s pace was a bit too much for her, eventually falling for ten.

India sprung a surprise then, by sending the debutante Richa Ghosh in at no.3. The youngster showed glimpses of her ability, hitting a couple of fours. But she was one of the third victims of the short ball, handing Annabel Sutherland her maiden scalp in the format.

Like we have seen on numerous occasions, Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur steadied the rocking ship, adding fifty together. The southpaw completed her 12th T20I fifty, her second in the series against Australia. She was granted at least three chances and was eventually dismissed by Megan Schutt for 66, thanks to a tumbling catch by Nicola Carey.

Things then began to go downhill for India, who lost five for 12 in the middle. Jess Jonassen was the architect of the fall, picking up five for 12 in her spell - becoming the third Australian to pick up a T20I fifer - eventually dismissing India for 144. The tourists had managed to concede the game, after seemingly having it in the pocket, when they needed 39 in the final five overs.

Earlier, batting first, Alyssa Healy’s horrendous run continued as she was dismissed in the very first over of the match. Deepti Sharma, taking the new ball, got her to edge one behind for just four. That was the only delight India had for a while.

Ashleigh Gardner, who was given a gift in the form of a full toss early in the innings, continued her merry ways against India – she had managed a career-best 93 the league match against them. She added 52 in eight overs with Mooney for the second wicket.

But soon, she tried to take on Arundhati Reddy (1/31) and ended up slicing one up in the air, only to be caught at cover-point for 26. At two for 56 in the ninth over, that should have been an opening for India.

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However, not for nothing is Meg Lanning known to be a reliable player, who leads from the front. She got into the groove quickly, being at ease against whatever the spinners as well as the pacers threw at her. The leg side was one of the most explored regions, hitting a couple of fours and a six in her 19-ball 26. She also strung a quick 51-run stand for the third wicket, before falling to Radha Yadav.

Sharma and Rajeshwari Gayakwad applied the brakes in the middle, picking up four wickets amongst themselves. At that point it seemed Australia would be contained to a par score.

Mooney, though, was motoring along at the other end. She soon got to her sixth T20I half century, her third in the series. She remained unbeaten on 71 in just 54 balls as she took Australia to 155, thanks largely to a 19-run final over.

Brief Scores: Australia 155/6 in 20 overs (Beth Mooney 71*, Meg Lanning 26, Ashleigh Gardner 26; Deepti Sharma 2/30, Rajeshwari Gayakwad 2/32) beat India 144 all out in 20 overs (Smriti Mandhana 66; Jess Jonassen 5/12) by 11 runs. PoTM: Jess Jonassen, PoTS: Beth Mooney.