The Australian opener was full of praise for the screenings of Jhulan Goswami, Meghna Singh and Pooja Vastrakar
When Meghna Singh defeated Alyssa Healy’s outer rim with her first ball in international cricket, at the first ODI in Mackay, India seemed to have discovered a key piece in their long-unsolved tempo puzzle in her outswinger. With the newcomer’s skills complemented by Jhulan Goswami’s ever-evolving mastery of movement and Pooja Vastrakar’s newfound penetration, India’s tempo resources had assumed an unusual degree of threat by the end of the ODI series.
The series has moved to Carrara and the cue has given way to pink, but India’s new pace attack continued to test Australia’s highly regarded batting formation in their own circumstances. They didn’t benefit too much from a specific test match preparation or pink ball in this game, but it doesn’t seem to have put them off in the least.
“India, tonight with the seam, showed us what we couldn’t quite do with the new ball early in our innings,” said Australian wicketkeeper opener Alyssa Healy after her team finished day three fours and had 85 runs gone. from saving the sequel. “We won the toss and wanted to bowl, we wanted to make a real impact and couldn’t quite do that I think with a little inexperience around. But you’re right, we’ve never really had a real crack at bowling under lights in that dangerous period that everyone is talking about.”
The highlight of the twilight stage, when India had the ball, was a burst of two new balls by Goswami. In the seventh over of the hosts’ innings, the pace spearhead dislodged left opener Beth Mooney’s leg stump with a blistering inswinger. When Goswami returned to attack in the 23rd over, she resumed her fight against Healy, who was now on 29th.
The fight would go on for four more balls, and in those four balls Goswami would stamp her authority on the evening.
Her second ball jabbed in and crept precariously between Healy’s bat and toad. Then a bouncer came and slapped Healy’s right shoulder as she grabbed too early in a tug. Before she could muster a riposte, Goswami landed the perfect outswinger and found a fatal outside edge.
“Yeah, I enjoyed it. It was fun, but running away isn’t so much fun,” Healy said. “But I enjoyed the challenge of it. She’s outdone me a few times in the series already.” Healy had lost her middle punch to Goswami in the second ODI. “It’s just an amazing sight for Test cricket. She’s clearly a world class bowler; has been all her career and just that extra bit of bounce that gets her to be as big as she is and incredibly skilled with the seam so it’s was a real challenge, especially after spending 140 (145) overs in the field.”
Goswami’s yin found its yang in Singh and Vatsrakar throwing 27 overs between them in a collaboration that made watching compelling. The trio’s relentless, penetrating lines and the occasional but highly effective use of the short ball frustrated Australia’s top order in what would be the first full session after dinner in three days as the rain stayed off the radar. While Singh remained wicketless, Vastrakar picked up two, including Captain Meg Lanning’s, albeit via a faulty lbw call.
“I think they bowled beautifully under the lights today,” Healy said. “They have a really great seam attack and they have presented that seam and let the ball do the work for them. So yeah it would have been nice to see our attack do the same. But let’s hope we see more and more pink women’s ball test matches. Realistically, they should be really exciting.”
Although Healy and her teammates have met Goswami a number of times over the years, they haven’t seen the disciplined Singh of Vastrakar in her new role as a lower order pace bowler very often.
“Their consistency probably surprised me more than in the past,” Healy said. “Just the way they came out consistently and bowled a really good line and length and present the seam accordingly is really impressive and they showed our relatively young and inexperienced attack how it’s done. That probably was the only surprise. “
That India could afford to place the second-most experienced fast in their ranks, Healy said, was indicative of the depth of bowling in Indian women’s cricket.
“It’s great to see so many young Indian players getting opportunities here,” Healy said. “I mean when we got into game one we definitely thought Shikha Pandey was going to play and she’s someone we’ve played against a lot and we prepared for her accordingly and she didn’t even take a look, which is a great sign for Indian cricket that they have some depth there.”
Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @ghosh_annesha