Smriti Mandhana’s magnificent 83 and contributions from India’s spinners gave India a thumping 48-run win over Australia in the final Group B game of the ICC Women’s World T20 in Providence, Guyana. With this win, India have topped the group and will face the loser of the West Indies vs England game. This was India’s first-ever win against Australia in this tournament and this will give them plenty of momentum as they seek to win the title for the first time. Mandhana, who had struggled earlier in the tournament, put on her best show against her favourite opponents and that set the base for India to achieve their highest total in Twenty20 Internationals against the three-time World T20 champions.
Opting to bat, India lost Taniya Bhatia (2) but after a slow start, Mandhana opened the shackles with a straight-driven boundary off Megan Schutt in the fourth over. However, the left-hander went after Sophie Molineux by launching her over long on for a six and then late-cutting a short ball past backward point. Mandhana continued to find the boundary by launching Schutt over long on for her second six and then cracking a cut shot to the deep backward point fence. With 34 runs coming off three overs, India had gotten momentum.
After losing Jemimah Rodrigues (6) cheaply, Mandhana found great support in skipper Harmanpreet Kaur and the duo continued to attack. Harmanpreet got going with a six over deep midwicket off Molineux and Mandhana reached her fifty off 31 balls by sweeping Ashleigh Gardner to the fine leg fence. Harmanpreet continued to pepper the boundary and the 68-run stand put India on course for a big total.
However, Australia fought back with quick wickets towards the end, including Harmanpreet for an aggressive 43. In the 15th over, Mandhana was adjudged LBW and on Veda Krishnamurthy’s insistence, she took the review and replays showed the ball was pitching outside the line of leg stump. This boosted Mandhana and she went past 1000 runs in Twenty20 Internationals. India finished on 167/8 and on a pitch assisting the spinners, Harmanpreet’s side held the upper hand.
In response, Australia were dealt a body blow before the start of their chase as wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy was injured. In the 19th over of the innings, Healy had a nasty collision with Schutt and she injured her shoulder in the process.
Australia never got going as India’s spinners worked their charm on a slow, low Providence wicket. Anuja Patil, Deepti Sharma, Radha Yadav and Poonam Yadav all worked their magic to wreck the Australian chase. Deepti Sharma started off with a bang by taking two wickets. Poonam and Radha combined in tandem in the middle overs to ensure Australia did not get away.
Ellyse Perry kept Australia in the hunt with an aggressive 39 but Patil ran through the lower order to finish with 3/15 as India secured a famous win. Speaking in the post-match presser, captain Harmanpreet said with such good players in the side, the team had to put in a solid performance.
Mandhana, who was named player of the match, was relieved that she could finally convert her start into a big score and thanked her partner Veda Krishnamurthy for her presence of mind. “First three matches I got starts but couldn't convert it. So, I just wanted to score big today. Veda insisted on the review, and thanks to her we got 20-30 runs extra,” Mandhana said.