Australia 188 for 3 (Perry 72*, Gardner 42, Healy 30 retd hurt, Deepti 2-35) beat India 181 for 5 (Harmanpreet 46, Richa 40*, Vaidya 32, Gardner 2-20, King 2-23) by seven runs
If her swashbuckling 47-ball 75 on Wednesday wasn’t proof enough that she is well and truly back, Ellyse Perry kicked it up a notch with a classy 72 not out as Australia beat India by seven runs and took an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match T20I series being played in Mumbai. This, despite a late flourish from Richa Ghosh, who caused a few flutters in the Australia camp in the end.
After losing Alyssa Healy to a calf injury and Beth Mooney and Tahlia McGrath falling cheaply, Australia seemed to be losing their way in the first half of their innings, managing only 73 in their first 11 overs. However, Perry, supported in equal measure by Ashleigh Gardner and Grace Harris, changed all that and Australia went to the break 188 for 3, their last nine overs yielding an incredible 115 runs.
India then lost wickets at regular intervals to slip in the chase. However, Harmanpreet Kaur and later Richa provided the hosts with a semblance of chance. Needing 38 to win off the last two overs, Richa smashed two sixes and a four to get the equation down to 20 off six. Deepti Sharma hit a couple more fours, but 189 was too steep a mountain to climb.
An injury and two strikes
The final total notwithstanding, Australia seemed to be in a spot of bother mid-way through their innings. While Healy started in fifth gear, Mooney struggled with her timing. She only managed a mere 2 off 8 balls before mis-hitting Deepti to mid-on. Healy though remained unfussed. She struck six fours in her 21-ball 30, and just when it seemed to be her night, she sprained her calf muscle and had to retire hurt at the end of the sixth over. McGrath fell soon after and despite Perry smashing the first ball she faced for a six, the India bowlers seemed to be all over the visitors. Australia only managed three boundaries between the seventh and the 11th over, and faced 29 dot balls in the first 11 overs with the run rate less than seven.
Perry, Gardner and Harris run riot
Soon enough, Australia realised they needed a bit of impetus, and they got it through a Renuka Singh over. Tied down by spin, a change to pace brought about a change in the scoring rate. Perry and Gardner smashed Renuka for three fours in the 12th over, and there was no turning back. Australia collected a boundary at least once every over thereon, with only the 17th going for less than 10 runs.
Perry and Gardner added 94 runs off 59 balls for the third wicket. Gardner fell for a 27-ball 42 and her departure summoned even more power in the middle. Harris continued her stellar form smashing four fours and a six in her 12-ball 27 not out. Perry was equally adept in finding the ropes, her innings laced with seven fours and four sixes. Australia tonked 66 runs in the last five overs to reach a more-than-par total.
Gardner weaves her magic; Richa makes Australia sweat
If India had any shot of overhauling the target, they needed Smriti Mandhana to get going. She started the chase with a four first ball and hit two more in her next five balls as India raced to 21 in the first two overs. McGrath, standing in as captain for the injured Healy, then turned to who else but Gardner. And, the offspinner did not disappoint. She got one to dip and turn on Mandhana outside off, who could only edge it behind to Mooney. Later, she returned to get rid of set Devika Vaidya to finish with excellent figures of 2 for 20.
Australia picked up wickets regularly all through. Shafali Verma fell for 20, while Jemimah Rodrigues came and went. Harmanpreet did smoke a few lusty blows during her 30-ball 46, adding 72 runs with Vaidya for the fourth wicket, but once she fell, the target seemed a fair distance away. Richa did manage to make it interesting, though. The 19-year-old walking in with the asking rate in excess of 11, smashed her first two balls for fours. She had a slice of luck when McGrath dropped her on 17, and went about finding the ropes for fun. However, her unbeaten 19-ball 40 proved insufficient on the day.