In a riveting contest for the ages, India dispelled Australia in the Super Over to level the five-match series at the DY Patil Stadium on Sunday (December 11). Once again, it was Smriti Mandhana who headlined a chase with Richa Ghosh and Shafali Verma making vital contributions before a Devika Vaidya boundary took the match to a Super Over.
Super Over - living up to its name
With India batting first, Richa whacked the first delivery off Heather Graham for a six. After her dismissal in the subsequent delivery, Mandhana gave a strong finish by scoring four, six, and a three to set Australia a target of 21 runs.
During the chase, Alyssa Healy started with a four, but Renuka Singh Thakur came back to dismiss Ashleigh Gardener on the third delivery as a well-placed Radha Yadav completed the catch. With 15 runs required off the last two balls, Healy hit a four and a six but to no avail. India won their first-ever Super Over to cease Australia’s unbeaten run.
Australia had set a total of 187 runs. Mandhana and Verma gave an optimistic start to India in their chase. Mandhana struck three boundaries in the second over. Verma joined the party with her fearless approach. She struck successive fours in the over bowled by Ellyse Perry.
India had 76 runs when Alana King provided the breakthrough for Australia in the ninth over. She compelled Verma to hit the ball straight to the extra-cover fielder as the opener was dismissed for 34. Jemimah Rodrigues came to the crease and struck the first ball for a boundary.
In the subsequent over, debutant Heather Graham dropped the pace on the ball with Rodrigues getting stuck at the crease and losing her wicket. The match was evenly poised at the halfway mark. Indian required 107 runs from the last ten overs.
Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and Mandhana moved the score forward and kept India in the hunt. In the thirteenth over, Mandhana slog-swept King over the boundary and brought up her half-century.
India required 55 runs from the last five overs. Mandhana got out while trying to play a cheeky shot off Annabel Sutherland. Richa Ghosh continued the belligerent batting and took the chase to the last over. With five needed off the last ball, Devika Vaidya sliced the ball towards the backward-point to take the game to the Super Over.
McMooney Show again
After Kaur won the toss and opted to bowl first, India showed attacking intent from the beginning with two slips in place. Anjali Sarvani swung the ball inwards and created early scares for Healy. The Australian skipper was quick to overcome danger and picked the boundaries.
With Healy taking on Thakur, Australia compelled Kaur to introduce Deepti Sharma into the attack. The ploy worked when she lured Healy with a slower short-pitched delivery only for the batter to hit it straight to short-third.
In-form batter Tahlia McGrath struck a boundary to announce her arrival. She was fortunate to be given a reprieve by Ghosh and Yadav. McGrath combined with Beth Mooney to speed up the innings in the middle overs. They improvised by using the pace and width provided by the Indian bowlers as they found the gaps with perfection.
Australia looked well-placed for a big total with 80 runs after ten overs. On the other hand, India looked for a breakthrough. Mooney gave Sharma a chance when she slammed the ball into her hands, but Sharma was unable to hold on to the catch.
Mooney and McGrath reached their respective half-centuries before the death overs. Their boundary surge helped them to finish the innings with a partnership of 158 runs, the highest ever for Australia in T20Is.
Brief Scores: Australia 187/1 in 20 overs (Beth Mooney 82*, Tahlia McGrath 70*; Deepti Sharma 1/31) tied India 187/5 in 20 overs (Smriti Mandhana 79, Shafali Verma 34, Richa Ghosh 26*; Heather Graham 3/22) India won the Super Over (India 20/1 and Australia 16/1) POTM: Smriti Mandhana