Recent Match Report – India (W) vs AUS WMN Only Test 2023/24

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India Women 376 for 7 (Mandhana 74, Rodrigues 73, Deepti 70*, Ghosh 52, Gardner 4-100) lead Australia Women 219 by 157 runs

India overcame eight bowlers and batted 100 overs on an enthralling second day to lead Australia by 157 runs in the one-off Test in Mumbai. Determined fifties from Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, debutant Richa Ghosh and Deepti Sharma took the hosts to a mammoth 376 for 7, from the overnight score of 98 for 1, putting India in a commanding position.

Offspinner Ashleigh Gardner‘s accuracy and relentless bowling earned her four wickets on a surface that kept low and turned as the ball became old but otherwise, Australia toiled for wickets.

Despite the lack of experience in playing Test cricket, Indian batters showed great technique and temperament built on solid defence. The hosts did suffer a mini-collapse in the second session, however, they recovered well in the final session to extend the lead.

An unbroken partnership of 102 for the eighth wicket between Deepti and Pooja Vastrakar suggested that it was a matter of hanging on for the batters to thrive and score runs in tangible terms.

Mandhana, who was unbeaten on 43 on the first day, took her time to find boundaries in the morning and looked positive to convert her fifty to a big score. With the nightwatch Sneh Rana, she stitched 50 runs for the second wicket. Rana contributed 9 off 47 deliveries to frustrate the bowlers. Australia had their first breakthrough when Gardner cleaned Rana up after she missed a sweep, playing for the turn. Four overs later, a mix-up between Ghosh and Mandhana ended in the latter throwing her wicket away for 74. Her 106-ball knock consisted of 12 fours.

Once Mandhana departed, India had two crucial and big partnerships, one in the middle order and one lower down. Ghosh, who has been seen as a T20 specialist and is yet to become a regular in ODIs, made a mark by notching up a well-made 52 off 104 deliveries. She looked unhurried, putting the loose deliveries away and defending the good balls with confidence. She was also helped by Ellyse Perry’s drop at mid-off on 14. But after that, Ghosh looked set for her maiden fifty.

She became one of the six players to have scored a fifty on debut since 2021.

On the other end was Rodrigues, playing her second Test and making the most of the opportunity in whites. Having come in at 147 for 3, she accounted for 73 runs, hitting nine boundaries in her 121-ball stay.

The two young batters played 187 deliveries to put on 113 runs that blunted Australia.

Alyssa Healy, on her first tour as full-time Australia captain, tried almost all the bowlers in search of a wicket – left-arm spin, offspin, legspin, left-arm pace, right-arm pace – but no other bowler bowled such tight lines and troubled the batters like Gardner.

Such was her consistency that Healy extracted 36 of the 100 overs that Australia bowled on Friday from her. Having bowled 41 overs overall, Gardner looked most threatening in the Australian attack to take a wicket every time she came in to bowl.

Australia though fought back – briefly – with quick wickets when Ghosh fell to right-arm pacer Kim Garth while trying to go big after fifty. Gardner then added two wickets to her name, trapping Harmanpreet Kaur and Yastika Bhatia lbw before picking up the big wicket of Rodrigues just before tea. India lost 4 for 14 in 8.5 overs as they slipped to 276 for 7, with a lead of 57 after the second session.

From there on, allrounders Vastrakar and Deepti showcased extraordinary game awareness to pile on more misery in the final session. When the ball was old and assisted spinners, the duo batted cautiously with patience aplenty for the first 20 overs. When the new ball was taken and the opportunities arose, they found boundaries with good technique.

Deepti also looked more comfortable charging down the track to spinners when the new ball came into the picture. She kept the scorecard ticking to remain unbeaten on 70. This also meant she became the second woman with fifty-plus scores in each of their first four Tests after Australia’s Denise Emerson.

Vastrakar, who played second fiddle, was mostly content to take singles in her 115-ball knock. The 100-run stand came up in 232 balls in the penultimate over of the day.

Srinidhi Ramanujam is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo

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