WWT20: Mandhana, spinners stifle Aussies

SUMMARY: India 167-8 from 20 overs (Smriti Mandhana 83 off 55, Harmanpreet Kaur 43 off 27, Ellyse Perry 3-16, Ashleigh Gardner 2-25, Delissa Kimmince 2-42) v Australia 119 all out in 19.4 overs (Ellyse Perry 39* off 28, Anuja Patil 3-15)

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By Avenash Ramzan

First it was the elegantly brutal force of Smriti Mandhana.

Then it was the bowling- almost dreary, dead slow if you’d like- of the Indian spinners.

To witness it all was a hugely bias crowd rooting for Team India against three-time champions Australia in a crucial Group B tie of the Women’s World T20.

The orange, white and green flags danced in the streaming sun at Providence, as Harmanpreet Kaur’s girls thumped Meg Lanning’s Aussies by 49 runs to top the group.

Both teams entered the contest with a clean slate- three wins from three. India though were the underdogs, at least from the numbers prior to this World Cup.

In head-to-head clashes, Australia were miles in front with an 11-3 record. Saturday’s win was India’s first in three attempts against the Aussies at the World Cup.

The historic victory was set up by Mandhana, the opener bearing the number 18 on her back. It’s the number Virat Kohli owns, and some of the shots Mandhana unfurled had shades of the dominance that is synonymous to the legendary Indian batsman.

Mandhana is a left-hander though, and that brought its own dimension and intrigue to the onslaught she inflicted on the bowlers after Kaur called correctly at the toss and chose to bat.

India was certainly not short on support beyond the boundary

A punch on the move through cover off debutant Tayla Vlaeminck in the third over had a touch of Sourav Ganguly, and it sparked the beginning of a batting master-class from the Mumbai strokemaker. Nine shots went to the boundary, three went beyond.

Powerful drives and cuts, deft dabs, confident lofted strokes and the occasional paddle sweeps all defined a career-best knock of 83 off 55, Mandhana’s sixth fifty-plus score in T20Is. She also crossed the 1,000-run mark in T20Is, bringing up the landmark with her third and final maximum.

The half-century came off 31 balls and put India on course for a huge total, with 83-2 being the score at the halfway stage of the innings.

With Mandhana and Kaur going great guns, Australia were left to chase leather on a hot Saturday- the fifth and final day of World T20 games on the South American mainland.

They added 68 in seven overs, but Kaur’s departure for 43 off 27 balls at 117-3 midway through the 14th over stalled India’s progress.

They eventually ended on 167-8, India’s highest T20 total against Australia. The innings was a tale of two halves really; 83-2 in the first 10, 84-6 in the second.

Ellyse Perry, playing in her 100th T20I, the first Australian- male of female- to do so, ended with 3-16, while Ashleigh Gardner had 2-25 and Delissa Kimmince 2-42.

Australia started their chase one short, with the in-form Alyssa Healy absent injured. The wicketkeeper, who is also the opener, was involved in a collision with bowler Megan Schutt as both attempted to pull off a catch in the penultimate over.

Healy had to leave the field, and what ensued proved how significant her scores of 48, 56* and 53 have been to Australia’s campaign thus far.

They folded for 119 in 19.4 overs, surrendering meekly to India’s spin dominated attack.

Spin quartet Anuja Patil (3-15), Radha Yadav (2-13), Deepti Sharma (2-24) and Poonam Yadav (2-28) combined for figures of 15.4-0-80-9.

Perry shored up the innings with 39 not out off 28, but all that did was reduce the margin of defeat. For the 3,000 spectators, it was the only result they were going to be comfortable with.

Editor’s Note: See additional photos on our Facebook page.

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