A mammoth 129 runs partnership between Ashleigh Gardner and Grace Harris followed by a hat-trick by Heather Graham propelled Australia to seal the five-match series 4-1 at the Brabourne Stadium on Tuesday (December 20). Deepti Sharma’s valiant efforts with the bat were not enough for the home side as the visitors won the final match by 54 runs.
India’s captain Harmanpreet Kaur won the toss for the fourth time in a row in this five-match series and opted to bowl first against Tahlia McGrath-led Australia. Australia made two changes to their playing XI with the series already won. Alyssa Healy missed out due to a calf injury she sustained in the previous T20I. The 19-year-old Phoebe replaced her, while Kim Garth replaced Megan Schutt.
Anjali Sarvani dismissed Mooney with the first ball of her spell for two. Litchfield started her international career with a lovely straight drive, but a smart stumping from Richa Ghosh ended her first international knock. McGrath smashed 18 runs from Deepti Sharma’s second over, but another Ghosh and Shafali Verma partnered to dismiss Australia’s stand-in captain for 26. Ellyes Perry, who recorded her two highest individual scores in T20Is in this series, tried to replicate her hitting in the final game but found Harleen Deol at the long-on.
Halfway through the first innings, Australia found themselves at 72 for four with Gardner and Harris at the crease. Harris thrashed half volley offered by Shafali Verma for a four, which indicated the change in gear for Australia. Gardner joined the party with four boundaries off Sarvani’s third over to take Australia past 100 runs in the 13th over.
Harris welcomed the left-arm spin of Radha Yadav with two back-to-back sixes, and the pair reached a partnership of 50 runs in just 29 balls. In the 18th over, Harris reached her maiden half-century off 28 balls with a six over deep mid-wicket. Two balls later, Gardner joined her with a half-century of her own in 25 balls. The pair added 25 runs in the final two overs as Australia posted 196 for four in the first innings.
Harris remained unbeaten on 64 off 35 balls, while Gardner smashed 66 not out off 32 balls.
In reply, India lost vice-captain Smriti Mandhana in the first over for four as she found Harris. Harleen Deol, batting at three, provided some fireworks as she smashed boundaries against Gardner and Brown. A mix-up between Deol and Kaur ended a promising knock by Deol for 24. The home side lost captain Kaur for 12 off 11 balls as Annabel Sutherland struck with her first ball of the match. India promoted Ghosh to five, and the 18-year-old started in her regular fashion with a few boundaries against Sutherland in the same over.
Ghosh’s fireworks didn’t last for long as Graham took a well-judged catch above her head to cut short the wicketkeeper-batter’s innings for 11. After her heroics with the catch, McGrath handed the ball to Graham in the 13th over, and she dismissed Devika Vaidya and Radha Yadav with back-to-back deliveries to break the back of the Indian chase. Sharma made the most of her opportunities and hit four boundaries for India in Alana King’s final over of the day, but it was too little too late for the home side.
Graham, on a hat-trick, bowled the final over of the game and bowled Renuka Singh Thakur. She became the second Australian player after Megan Schutt to take a T20I hat-trick. Sharma completed her half-century in the final over, but Graham grabbed her fourth wicket of the match off the last ball as India were bowled out for 142. Australia won the match by 54 runs and grabbed the five-match T20I series 4-1.
Brief Scores: Australia 196/4 in 20 overs (Ashleigh Gardner 66*, Grace Harris 64*; Shafali Verma 1/17) beat India 142 all out in 20 overs (Deepti Sharma 53, Heather Graham 4/8) by 54 runs POTM: Ashleigh Gardner POTS: Ashleigh Gardner