Richa Ghosh’s late charge of 40 runs went in vain as the home side lost the 4th T20I at the Brabourne Stadium on Saturday (17 December). An all-round clinical performance from Ashleigh Gardner helped Australia secure an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match T20I series.
India won the toss for the third consecutive time this series and asked Australia to bat. Alyssa Healy took on the new ball right away. Beth Mooney, who was struggling to get going, raced down the track but failed to clear Shafali Verma at mid-on.
Captain Alyssa Healy, scoring at a strike rate of 143, was forced to retire after what looked like a painful calf strain. Tahlia McGrath fell prey to Radha Yadav as the Australia vice-captain bowled for just nine runs.
Ellyse Perry seemed to continue her form from the last game, hitting a massive six on the very first ball she faced.
However, runs were hard to come by as the Indian spinner trio of Deepti Sharma, Devika Vaidya and Radha clamped down the Australian batters, restricting them to 70 for 2 in the first ten overs. 32 dot balls were bowled in the first 11 overs.
Harmanpreet Kaur searching for another wicket brought Renuka Singh Thakur back into the attack but Perry and Gardner took her on, scoring 13 runs off her. This opened the floodgates for Australia. The explosive pair added a staggering 66 runs in the span of five overs.
Perry’s blitzkrieg continued as she hit her second straight half-century of the series.
The reliable Deepti spun her magic, again, taking the all-important wicket of Gardner to break the 94-run partnership.
But, the death overs belonged to Australia. Grace Harris came to the crease all guns blazing. Scoring a quickfire 27 runs off just 12 balls. With Perry, she helped Australia score 118 runs in the final 10 overs. India was left with the massive task of chasing 189 runs to level the series.
In the absence of the captain and wicket-keeper Healy, McGrath took charge of the captaincy and Mooney put on the gloves.
The opening pair of Smriti Mandhana and Shafali took the game to the Aussies from the very first over. The duo hit three boundaries off Darcie Brown.
However, it was Gardner’s turn with the ball after showcasing a prolific batting performance. The WBBL Player of the Year showed her all-round prowess, picking up the all-important wicket of Mandhana.
Both the openers were back in the dressing room by the end of the power play as they fell for low scores.
Jemimah Rodrigues looked to take on the aggressor role to bring the required run rate down. But the batter mistimed a shot, leading to a simple catch to Darcie Brown at fine-leg.
Harmanpreet and Vaidya kept the scoreboard ticking at a respectable pace and brought up their 50-run partnership off just 33 balls. Harmanpreet took on m Heather Graham, scoring 17 runs which included four glorious boundaries.
Brown’s 14th over proved to be a vital over. She just conceded six runs and put the pressure back on Harmanpreet and Vaidya.
Looking for big hits, Harmanpreet edged her sweep shot and was caught by Brown at short fine-leg.
Ghosh’s onslaught began right after she came to the crease. Hitting two powerful boundaries off her first two deliveries.
Vaidya was unable to time the ball perfectly throughout her innings and was dismissed by Gardner in the 18th over after scoring a hard-fought 32 runs from 26 balls.
Heather Graham was on the receiving end once again but this time against Ghosh, conceding two sixes and a four in three balls.
Richa’s late flourish led to India scoring 18 runs in the penultimate over, and the 189-run target seemed well within reach. With 20 runs from the last over, Schutt’s experienced and composed bowling to Deepti and Ghosh was enough to guide the Aussies home as the visitors clinched the series with a game to play.
Brief scores: Australia 188/3 in 20 overs (Ellyse Perry 72*, Ashleigh Gardner 42; Deepti Sharma 2/35) beat India 181/5 in 20 overs (Harmanpreet Kaur 46, Richa Ghosh 40*; Ashleigh Gardner 2/20, Alana King 2/23) by seven runs. POTM: Ashleigh Gardner