Chasing 150 to win, India didn’t have the greatest of starts with Mandhana struggling against the pace of Tayla Vlaeminck in her opening burst. But disaster struck for the visitors when Shafali Verma hit a half-tracker from Ashleigh Gardner straight to short fine-leg for just one.
Mandhana continued to struggle to get her innings going even as Jemimah Rodrigues took her time at the other end. India could score only 11 runs from the first four overs with the southpaw batting on five off 15.
However, Mandhana eventually broke the stalemate as she got the better off Vlaeminck in her third over with three boundaries. She first flicked the pacer for four through square-leg before pulling one through mid-wicket and following it up with a trademark drive through cover.
Even though India found occasional boundaries, lack of big overs caused Rodrigues to go after Georgia Wareham and the right-hander found Vlaeminck at long-off boundary for 23 off 26 balls. The score was 60 for two at that stage in the 11th over. Annabel Sutherland bowled a frugal over against Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur as required run rate went above 10 for the first time in the chase.
That prompted the experienced duo to take on the Australian bowlers. They hit Gardner for one boundary each before Mandhana added two more fours to her tally to get to her 14th fifty in the format from 46 balls. But Nicola Carey had the last laugh when she had Mandhana caught by Meg Lanning in the same over.
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With India needing 57 runs from the last five overs, India promoted Pooja Vastrakar, but they soon lost Kaur for 13 off 16 balls as Lanning found herself in the thick of things again with another good catch at cover. Vastrakar didn't last long either as Carey castled her stumps with a fuller one. From there, things went further down south fast for the tourists with the lower order finding it difficult to find regular boundaries. They eventually fell 14-run short despite some late flourish from Ghosh, who finished with 23 from just 11 balls.
For Australia, Carey was the most successful bowler with two wickets while three others took one wicket apiece.
Earlier, Kaur became the first Indian captain to win the toss on the tour and put the hosts into bat. Shikha Pandey continued from where she left in the last match and kept Alyssa Healy in check in the first over with her trademark inswingers. The visitors made sure to keep the wicket-keeper rooted to the crease with Ghosh standing up to the wicket.
Renuka Singh reaped the rewards of keeping Healy inside the crease when she had the big-hitter caught behind by a juggling Ghosh in the fifth ball of the second over. Mooney started her knock by taking on Pandey with three consecutive boundaries in the third over with two off-drives and a glance through fine-leg. Two more fours – one each from Mooney and Lanning – meant Australia finished the power play on 38 for one.
Just as it looked like Lanning was middling everything out there, disaster struck for the Australian skipper as she smashed her bat onto the stumps while trying to go back and cut a wide delivery from Rajeshwari Gayakwad. She became the first player from Australia to be hit wicket in T20Is in the process.
Introduction of Kaur into the attack in the eighth over helped Mooney pick another set of three boundaries in first three balls. She smashed Kaur through the leg-side as the off-spinner erred in length by bowling it too short. However, Vastrakar’s added another chapter to her impressive tour as she got Gardner to nick one behind the wicket to Ghosh for just one.
Post Gardner’s dismissal, India kept the scorecard in check with two tight overs before Ellyse Perry tried to break free and was caught at long-on by Vastrakar off Deepti Sharma for eight off 11 balls.
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That brought in-form McGrath to the crease as she joined Mooney in the middle. India once again struggled to go past the pair as McGrath started the innings with a sweep off Gayakwad for four. At the other end, Mooney brought up her 11th fifty in the format from 36 balls with a boundary off Singh and she then followed it up with a reverse sweep off Sharma.
McGrath used her power to hit through the off-side to find two more boundaries before cutting Vastrakar for another four. Eventually India found the breakthrough when Mooney was caught brilliantly by Kaur at cover for 61 off 43 balls.
The left-hander’s dismissal didn’t stop McGrath from giving Australia the final flourish. She first launched Gayakwad down the ground for a huge six before adding another boundary with a hard sweep. Australia eventually finished on 149 for five from the stipulated 20 overs as McGrath remained unbeaten on 44 off 31 balls.
For India, Gayakwad took two wickets while Singh, Vastrakar and Sharma had one wicket apiece.
Brief Scores: Australia 149/5 in 20 overs (Beth Mooney 61, Tahlia McGrath 44*; Rajeshwari Gayakwad 2/37) beat India (Smriti Mandhana 52; Nicola Carey 2/42) by 14 runs POTM: Tahlia McGrath