India has done extremely well to get Australia under the pump. What a great at bat, though, by Perry, who kept the innings together. Ash Gardner also came in with a fifty. For India, Jhulan Goswami, Meghna Singh and Deepti Sharma each took two wickets, while Pooja Vastrakar took 3/49
India dictated terms to mighty Australia, who did everything they could to survive the difficult overs under lighting, ending day three of the rain-marred pink ball Test at 143 to four here on Saturday. At stumps, Australia trailed the visitors by 234, after veteran Seamer Jhulan Goswami (2/27) threw beautifully and struck twice to leave them at 63 for two in one leg.
India declared their first innings at 377 for eight. Mithali Raj’s side got lucky when the umpire mistakenly knocked out Australian captain Meg Lanning (38), raising his finger despite an inside rim and ending her ominous stay in the middle. On that occasion, Pooja Vastrakar (2/31) was the lucky bowler. However, there was quite a bit of dew and that obviously didn’t help the Indian bowlers, who kept things tight for much of the Australian innings.
After Tahlia McGrath (28) hit Vastrakar’s wide and short ball straight to Smriti Mandhana to leave the hosts at 119 for four, Goswami was brought back with two slips, a gully and a dumb mid-off, but Ellyse Perry (27) and Ashleigh Gardner (13 at bat) survived. Lanning’s resignation raised questions about the absence of DRS, which was part of the game, but the organizers were unable to follow through with their plans. Previously, Goswami struck twice to bring Australia down to 69 for two at tea time after India announced its first innings. India got the timing of the filing right considering that hitting is most difficult in the second session of a pink ball day/night test due to factors related to light.
Australia recovered nicely from the early loss of Beth Mooney when the duo Alyssa Healy (29) and skipper Lanning not only kept the ship stable, but also played some beautiful shots. Shortly before half time, however, Goswami delivered the visitors with her beautiful bowling. After weakening Healy with a few short balls, Goswami threw a long ball, which he got into motion just enough for the batter to catch it in the waiting hands of wicketkeeper Taniya Bhatia. This was after the 38-year-old fast bowler cleared Monney’s punches with one that bounced back at the left-handed opener even as the batter looked to tap it on the leg side.
For India, Deepti Sharma made a fine 66, finishing as the team’s second best goalscorer, a day after Smriti Mandhana’s magnificent first 100 in the format. Earlier in the day, instead of making quick runs, India dug in deep to reach 359 to seven at dinner. The Indians resumed their overnight score of 276 for five after rain and lightning prematurely ended the second day’s play at the Carrara Oval, scoring 83 runs for the loss of the wickets of Taniya Bhatia and Pooja Vastrakar in the long first session. Taniya made 22 from 75 balls, while Vastrakar made 13.
On the dinner break, Deepti hit Sharma at 58. Taniya’s dismissal ended a 45-run tie for the sixth wicket with Sharma, which came at a much slower pace than Thursday as the two teams appeared to face a draw rater than the forcing a result after a significant portion of the match was wiped out by bad weather. The duo of Taniya and Sharma consumed over 28 overs to get those 45 runs. It was Stella Campbell, who fired Taniya, caught behind by Alyssa Healy from a back-of-a-length delivery on a stump going away, for her first Test wicket.
Although they didn’t lose many wickets, what didn’t help India’s cause was that the batters couldn’t take advantage of the loose balls on a pitch that looked quite flat. Deepti was very slow as usual and never played the attacking game which could have resulted in an earlier statement. Meanwhile, starting the day on 12, Sharma reached her second Test fifty with a sweep behind the square and reached the milestone in 148 balls using five boundaries.
Ellyse Perry gave the team another breakthrough when she brilliantly caught Pooja Vastrakar in the ditch by Beth Mooney as the batter appeared to drive through the covers. This was Perry’s 300th international wicket, even as Sharma went past her previous best test score of 54. Perry is the only female cricketer with 5000 international runs and 300 wickets.
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