IND W V AUS W: Australia, 63/2 At Lunch, Trail India By 124 Runs In One-Off Test

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Australia Women did well to end India’s first innings to just 36 minutes on the third morning but India snatched back some of the advantage by claiming two wickets before lunch in the one-off Test at the Wankhede Stadium here on Saturday.

After ending India’s first innings with the addition of just 30 runs to the overnight score of 376/7, the Australian openers Beth Mooney and Phoebe Litchfield raised 49 runs for the first wicket before they squandered the advantage by losing two easy wickets.

At Lunch on the third day, Australia were 63/2 in their second innings off 17 overs with Ellyse Perry batting on 7 and Tahlia McGrath, who scored a counter-attacking half-century in the first innings, on 1.

Mooney was the first to go, run out by Richa Ghosh for 33 off 37 balls, studded with seven boundaries. Mooney, who had batted well in the first innings too, ventured out of the crease in her follow-through while playing a defensive shot and Ghosh, stationed at silly point struck the stumps with Mooney well out, casually ambling to the crease not expecting Ghosh to hit the stumps. Australia lost their first wicket for 49 runs.

A few minutes later, they lost their second opener too as Litchfield was bowled by Sneh Rana for 18 off 44 balls.

Three balls after hitting a beautiful boundary, and walking down the pitch to punch a fullish delivery through covers, Litchfield attempted a reverse sweep off a full-length ball on the off-stump, completely missed the line and had her stumps disturbed. There was no need for her to manufacture that reverse sweep as she was doing well playing traditional shots.

From 49 for no loss, Australia slumped to 56/2 in the space of 12 deliveries a few minutes before the lunch break. It is now left for Perry and McGrath to keep their fight going as the Indian bowlers use all weapons in their arsenal to get them out.

Earlier, India Women’s first innings lasted only 36 minutes on the third morning as they could add only 30 runs to their overnight score, getting all out for 406 for an overall lead of 187 runs. The Indian innings lasted 7.5 overs in all, falling short of their expectations.

However, in this short duration, India Women crossed 400 runs against Australia for the first time in a Test match, surpassing their previous best of 377/8 declared at the Carrara Stadium in Gold Coast in 2021.

Starting at the overnight score of 376/7, India’s hopes rested on Deepti Sharma and Pooja Vastrakar adding as many runs as possible to extend their least past the psychological mark of 200 runs.

However, the Australians devised a plan, their experienced pacers Kim Garth and Annabel Sutherland used the short-pitched deliveries to rattle the Indian batters.

Vastrakar struck back-to-back boundaries off Sutherland in the 123rd over, getting on top of the bounce and pulling it to the deep backward square fence. The second was a lucky boundary, top-edging a leg-cutter over the keeper’s head.

Her vigil ended on the last ball of the over. Short ball ploy works as Sutherland bangs around off-stump and Vastrakar pulls it straight to Garth at square-leg, simple catch to end her 126-ball knock for 47, studded with seven boundaries. India lose their eighth wicket with 396 runs on the board.

She and Deepti Sharma added 122 runs for the eight-wicket partnership off 263 deliveries. This is the second-highest partnership ever for the eighth wicket, surpassing the 114 scored by Kathryn Leng and Melissa Reynard of England against New Zealand Women at Scarborough in 1996. The highest eighth-wicket partnership is the 181 added by DL Wilson and SJ Griffiths of Australia scored against New Zealand in Auckland in January 1990.

Deepti Sharma and Renuka Thakur took the score past 400 with the latter top-edging a short ball to the fence for a boundary. Deepti added only eight runs to her overnight score before she was cleaned up by Kim Garth with a fuller-length delivery on off and middle-stumps with the batter playing across the line, the ball deflects off the pad and sneaks through the gap with the bat to crash into the stumps.

Deepti was out for 78 off 171 balls and included seven boundaries as the left-handed batter top-scored for India in this innings.

Renuka Singh Thakur struck another four, off another top-edge but was out a ball later as Sutherland banged it short again as Thakur splices it while taking evasive action and Ashleigh Gardner took a simple catch.

Kim Garth claimed 1-9 off four overs on Saturday morning while Sutherland bagged 2-21 of 3.3 overs as the Indian innings lasted just 36 minutes.

Brief scores (At lunch, Day 3):

Australia Women 219 & 63/2 in 17 overs (Beth Mooney 33, Phoebe Litchfield 18; Sneh Rana 1-25) trail India Women 406 all out in 126.3 overs (Deepti Sharma 78, Smriti Mandhana 74, Jemimah Rodrigues 73; Richa Ghosh 52, Pooja Vastrakar 47; Ashleigh Gardner 4-100, Annabel Sutherland 2-41, Kim Garth 2-58) by 124 runs.

(IANS)

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