India’s spinners scripted a memorable upset in the opening T20 World Cup contest as despite losing the toss, being put into bat first, India recovered from a batting slump and later stumped Australia from the contest to win by 17 runs to complete a terrific win in the end. Winning a T20 at the back of a modest score is always fun but when you do so against the world Number 1 side, at their own backyard and that too, in the grandest of all cricketing stages- the T20 World Cup- it ought to be regarded handsomely.
But what were the key highlights of India’s thrilling win over the Australians in the first T20 World Cup contest
Flying start by Shafali
India, who got off to a flying start, were already up and away putting 41 runs at the end the end of 4 overs. While the first over by Molly Strano yielded only. 2 for the team batting first, Mandhana soon opened her arms carving two gorgeous boundaries off Perry’s first over which went for 9.
But the key highlight at that time was the batter at the other end- Shafali Verma who darted 16 off Megan Schutt’s first over. This wasn’t just any bowler; the Number. 1 ranked T20 bowler, who was struck for consecutive boundaries off the first two deliveries.
Shafali’s 29 off 15 featured 5 boundaries and a huge six, not too bad for a teenager playing her very first T20 World Cup knock against the tournament’s defending champions. On top of that, the Verma blitzkrieg came around a strike rate of 193.
Jess Jonassen’s spell
Right when it had seemed Indian batters were running away with the game, in cams Jonassen to bowl only to outfox India’s famous top order.
Mandhana was the first to go, out lbw for 10. Then, Harman departed on a freak dismissal, the ball completely missing Healy behind the stumps but deflecting off keeper to the stumps; the captain making just 2. Jonassen- star bowler for the Aussies in the opening contest of the T20 World Cup- slowed down India’s batting progress and it was at the behest of an excellent counter-attacking display of spin that Australia fought right back into the game.
Deepti- Rodrigues partnership
India, at the end of the 10 overs, were struggling with 63-3 wickets. Soon after repair-work from the middle order took hold of the contest.
The duo began to form their vital stand that eventually took India to a fighting 132 on the board but not before all top batters were back in the dugout.
It was imperative for a vital and perhaps match-saving stand to happen for India’s sake, especially after Smriti, Shafali, and Harman were out, in that order.
And it did, thanks to a gritty and focused 53-run stand between the experienced Deepti Sharma and the young mainstay at number 3.
The duo would first revive the sinking scoring rate by rotating the strike, and after scoring one’s and two’s, would begin searching for the odd boundary.
While Jemimah was rather conservative in her approach but focused on holding on to an end, Deepti Sharma was fluent, using the feet well against the dangerous Jonassen, offering the odd drive and pull against Schutt and Kimmince.
Together the duo would stick it out for a good 9 and a half overs (56 balls to be precise) before Jemimah was out lbw by Kimmince, the technically sound right-hander making a valuable 26 off 33.
Sharma departed later on, but not before making a 49 off 46- arguably her most precious knock against the Australians.
Healy’s batting the sole strong point on a day of fidgety Aussie batting
Coming into the T20 World Cup at the back of a torrid run with the bat, as seen during the Tri-series where the usually dominant right-hander hardly scored any runs, it was a great respite for her real to see Alyssa Healy return to her usual scoring ways.
The top scorer for Lanning’s side on a day where the batswomen majorly struggled on a slow track, Healy’s aggressive batting was the only soothing relief as others around her capitulated.
Defying any wickets to Indian bowlers, Healy began attacking on her own, finding the gaps on either side, dancing down the track to Gayakwad to clear the ropes and then attacking the others.
But soon after reaching her fifty, Healy went after a slower ball, Yadav taking the pace off the ball for a regular return catch.
Poonam Yadav’s game-changing spell
If there was ever a spell that completely changed the complexion of the game, bringing India right back into the contest after Healy’s fifty had sent out a warning to Indian bowlers, then it belonged to the foxy Poonam Yadav with her astonishing leg breaks.
In her second over, the right arm spinner removed Haynes and Perry off successive deliveries and was already on a hat-trick when a perfectly disguised slower one clipped a faint outside edge of Jonassen’s bat only for it to be dropped by Bhatia.
Hat-trick denied but India completely holding the Aussies by the scruff of their neck!
Next up, in her third over, bowling yet another wrong-un, having successfully got the better of Perry – out for a first ball duck- earlier, Yadav managed the bottom edge off Jonassen, who attempted a wild heave- Australia now 6 down for 82.
At the end of her 3rd over, she’d already removed 4 top Australians, giving only 15. Then 51 were still needed off 37.
Eventually, when she ended her spell, Yadav had given away only 19, having taken 4 big match-turning wickets for her side.
Without a doubt, the match-winning show of excellent leg break bowling – amplified by an ample use of wrong ‘uns- was the best part of the T20 World Cup contest.
Taniya Bhatia’s stellar show behind the stumps
In a contest where you just couldn’t keep the Indian bowlers out of the action, the humble wicketkeeper crept up over Australia and found a way to tense their nerves.
Sharp and alert behind the stumps, leaving little to the imagination, Taniya Bhatia was quite the maverick for India in a contest where the dominant players were Indian spinners and the struggling Aussie batswomen.
Involved in as many as 4 dismissals- taking 3 catches off spinners and effecting a clinical stumping off Shikha Pandey to get rid off Sutherland, Bhatia was as central to the win as were Poonam Yadav and Deepti Sharma.
Even as the Chandigarh youngster did mess up a golden chance for Yadav’s hat trick, dropping a sitter of Jonassen’s outside edge, her constant excellence aided the fight India’s spinners conjured after the batters were able to muster only a normal T20 score. Therefore, spare a thought for Taniya’s fine work in this T20 World Cup contest.