A career-best knock from India’s vice-captain, Smriti Mandhana followed by stifling bowling from their spinners was enough to flatten Australia yesterday by 38 runs and propel the subcontinent powerhouse to the top of Group B in the Women’s World T20 tournament.
Playing in front of a large contingent of fans at the Providence Stadium, India made 167-8 from 20 overs while Australia were contained to 119-9 with their in-form batter, Alyssa Healy injured and not batting.
With both teams having already qualified for the semi-finals, India began their innings with Mandhana opening with Taniya Bhatia as Mithali Raj sat out the match. Bhatia’s poor form continued with Meg Lanning taking a superb catch to end her misery.
Mandhana and Jemaimah Rodrigues carried on in their usual form, but the vice-captain showed her brute force to hammer sixes down the ground along with elegant stroke play to guide balls through the gap and into the fence resulting in 13 runs coming from the 5th and 6th overs to see India reach 46-1 at the end of the powerplay.
However, Rodrigues opened the face of her bat and gave a leading edge to third man. Mandhana was joined by her skipper, Harmanpreet Kaur and the pair added 68 for the third wicket.
In the process, Mandhana brought up her sixth half century in the format from just 31 balls while Kaur continued her splendid vein of form with a 30-ball 43 consisting of three fours and three sixes before falling to Delissa Kimmince.
The vice captain followed soon after for 83, hitting nine fours and three sixes in her 55-ball knock. She brought up her 1000th run in the process.
Veda Krishnamurthy was looking to smoke the ball once again but was unlucky as Talya Vlaeminck diving to her right stuck out her right hand and caught the ball to send her on her way for three.
Meanwhile, two balls later, Arundhati Reddy gave a leading edge that saw the bowler and Healy colliding in a failed attempt to take the catch. Healy left the field injured and did not return to bat.
Ellyse Perry, playing in her 100th match chipped away at the lower order, taking three wickets for just 16 runs as Australia gave away 19 extras.
The three-time champions began their chase in sublime fashion as Beth Mooney took 11 runs from the first over.
Deepti Sharma, in the fifth over accounted for both openers including Mooney for 19 while Poonam Yadav with her off break bowling, rocked the middle order, removing Ashleigh Gardner for 20 and drawing Rachel Haynes out of her crease to be stumped for eight.
Radha Yadav racing towards the 30-yard circle lunged to collect a low catch off her own bowling to remove Kimmince for one.
Anuja Patil in her first match of the tournament was critical to the collapse of the Aussie innings, taking three wickets to close off proceedings.
Only Perry looked set, top scoring with an unbeaten 39, hitting three fours and one six along the way.