Barring a few adventurous statements, India is entering the final stages of this one-off CommBank test on the Gold Coast as the only side to win the match after a dominant display from the visitors on day three.
On the first full day of the match, which started under a clear blue sky and then played out on a balmy evening, India dictated the terms from go to whoa, first via Deepti Sharma’s fine 66 and later via Jhulan Goswami’s excellent bowling pace.
At stumps, Australia had stumbled to 4-143 in response to India’s 8d-377, with Ellyse Perry (27) and Ashleigh Gardner (13) the no out batters.
Impressive as the tourists were, Meg Lanning’s side will no doubt have once again been disappointed with both their on-field efforts and their failure to get through with the ball.
Perry might have given her side an early wicket twice when she started bright: The Australians should have appealed when pace bowler Taniya Bhatia (22) hit the toe with a full ball; and one over later there was an outside edge of Deepti failing wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy.
Deepti had a different life an hour into the day when Lanning spilled a hot chance at second slip from Annabel Sutherland, before debutante, fast Stella Campbell (2-47) found a good pace and bounced to claim her first test wicket thanks to a lead of Bhatia .
As India maintained a quiet scoring percentage, it looked like Australia would have to take them out or wait for a twilight explanation, and when Ashleigh Gardner gave Pooja Vastrakar a life with a diminished chance of returning, frustration grew for the hosts.
Beth Mooney eventually reversed the fielding trend with an excellent dive catch in the briefs to finally take care of Vastrakar (13) and give Perry her landmark 300th international wicket, while Campbell narrowed a second after the ball stayed low and Deepti was caught lbw .
The statement came shortly afterwards and Australia started their at bat with the lights on and the natural light still quite strong, and perhaps as a result, India didn’t find the swing they had hoped for with the new pink ball.
Mooney (4) is said to have been furious when she was bowled by a straight from Goswami who tried to punch her through the side of the leg, and when Healy was sent off for 29 after a very skilled edit by the same bowler, India seemed to feel a opening.
Lanning was enjoying a young life as she lashed out at a wider delivery from Vastrakar and was put down by Deepti, and as the Australian skipper played some delicious shots she seemed settling for the long haul.
That idea was rudely interrupted when she was very unlucky to get lbw for 38 from Vastrakar, despite a clear inside rim.
Perry then teamed up with Tahlia McGrath (28) to keep the ship steady, but there was one more wicket to fall when the latter hammered one straight to a low point to give Vastrakar her second wicket.
Together, Gardner and Perry carefully picked out the last 11 overs of the day, but with India on top and more than 100 overs scheduled to bowl tomorrow, their work has only just begun.
Australia XI: Alyssa Healy (wk), Beth Mooney, Meg Lanning (c), Ellyse Perry, Tahlia McGrath, Ashleigh Gardner, Annabel Sutherland, Sophie Molineux, Georgia Wareham, Darcie Brown, Stella Campbell
India XI: Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Punam Raut, Mithali Raj (c), Yastika Bhatia, Deepti Sharma, Tania Bhatia (wk), Pooja Vastrakar, Jhulan Goswami, Meghna Singh, Rajeshwari Gayakwad
CommBank Series v India
Australia leads India 4-2 on points
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Darcie Brown, Maitlan Brown, Stella Campbell, Nicola Carey, Hannah Darlington, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Georgia Redmayne, Molly Strano, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck , Georgia Wareham
India Test and ODI squad: Mithali Raj (c), Harmanpreet Kaur (vc), Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma, Punam Raut, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana, Yastika Bhatia, Taniya Bhatia (wk), Shikha Pandey, Jhulan Goswami, Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Richa Ghosh, Ekta Bisht.
India T20I Selection: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, Sneh Rana, Yastika Bhatia, Shikha Pandey, Meghna Singh, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Richa Ghosh (wk), Harleen Deol , Arundhati Reddy, Radha Yadav, Renuka Singh.
First ODI: Australia won by nine wickets
Sep 24: Australia won by five wickets
Sep 26: India won by two wickets
Sep 30 – Oct 3: Test Match, Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast (D/N)
Oct 7: First T20, Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast
Oct 9: Second T20, Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast
Oct 10: Third T20, Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast